Well, well. After months of fiercely-worded opposition to “broad-based tax increases” — i.e. tax increases he doesn’t like — Governor Shumlin has opened the tax door, if only just a crack. He hasn’t changed his mind just yet; but he appears to be preparing the way for a big change in his position.
Why? Because of the federal sequester.
Shumlin says the proposed state budget for next year is very tight and that there’s no money available to backfill these federal cuts.
… The governor has strongly opposed most efforts to raise taxes this year but he says he might have to re-evaluate this position if the sequestration process drags on. “If this thing were to go for any length of time we’d have to rethink everything that we’re doing.”
This could dramatically change the Legislature’s agenda. The sequester might allow Shumlin to dump his unpopular revenue schemes (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit cut) and reopen discussion on stuff he’s ruled out, including the soda tax or a temporary tax increase on the top brackets.
The sequester may prove to be a very convenient pretext (especially since it happens to be true) for a brand-new plan to balance the budget and fund the Governor’s pet projects in education, energy, health care, and aid for the poor. Even if he doesn’t go that far, the sequester might allow him to loosen the screws, even slightly, on his tight budget limits.
On the other hand, reports like this might induce the Governor to double down on his anti-tax stance and go the draconian route. He does like to look tough.
Should be an interesting gubernatorial press conference tomorrow morning.