Texas House leaders denied word that the House and Senate are close to a tax cut deal Wednesday that would involve scrapping the House’s proposal for a reduction in the sales tax rate.
“There is no deal to talk about,” said state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, the House’s chief tax writer, before walking into a meeting with the House’s chief budget writer and other GOP leaders.
“If the Senate is talking about a deal we’re probably that much further away from having a deal,” the Angleton Republican added.
State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, who is closely aligned with House Speaker Joe Straus, also said “We’re not going to take anything off the table at this point,” while noting a sales tax cut is “not the No. 1 priority.”
Word of an impending tax cut deal was first detailed in a Houston Chronicle report Wednesday.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, one of five senators Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has asked to informally negotiate tax cuts with the House, also said “Everything remains on the table” and suggested a tax cut deal is not near.
“Right now, there are many cooks as chefs in the kitchen,” he said. “If a deal comes, it will have a thousand fathers and mothers.”
“Like I said, you’ll know when there is a real deal,” he said when asked if one was near.
How to cut taxes has emerged as the biggest point of disagreement between the two chambers this legislative session and has yet to ease with less than three weeks to go in the regular legislative session. Many observers believe the impasse could result in a special session because tax cuts will have to be worked out before lawmakers can finalize a state budget, which is the only piece of legislation they are required to pass when they meet every two years.
Geren said his No. 1 priority is to “pass a budget and go home.”
Reporter Chuck Lindell contributed to this report