Delaware Public Media

Democrats, Republicans back corporate franchise tax hike

May 11, 2017

State lawmakers are trying to knock out about a quarter of Delaware’s projected $395 million budget shortfall in one move.

 

Democratic and Republican leadership in both chambers are backing a bill that raises fees on the world’s largest companies that incorporate here.

 

The move would raise more than $115 million and has traditionally been viewed as one of the least controversial tax increases lawmakers vote on.

 

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) had said he wanted a full budget compromise finished before the Joint Finance Committee finalizes its spending plan before the end of the month.

But he says this fills out a big chunk of it.

 

“Obviously it was a long shot at best. I like to set goals and try to work towards them and this is a big step towards that goal, but we’re not going to have everything done by then,” Schwartzkopf said.

 

They plan on holding a committee hearing on the bill next week.

Lawmakers have yet to introduce any changes to the personal income tax that Gov. John Carney (D) proposed in March.

House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford) says negotiations continue over those tweaks.

“I think some of us would like to have some reassurance as to what would happen if there would be a revenue increase of some significance in June, how we would handle that. I would not want us to be spending that on new initiatives,” Short said.

 

He characterized the talks as productive and respectful, which hasn't always been the case. Republicans walked away from the table in 2015 while trying to finalize an infrastructure deal, leading to an all night free-for-all on June 30, the last day lawmakers have to roll out a budget. Both Short and Schwartzkopf are optimistic they’ll close a budget deal relatively soon to avoid a similar scramble.