Raleigh, N.C. — As the tax reform impasse between the House and Senate stretches into the new fiscal year, Gov. Pat McCrory is sending signals the issue may need to be set aside.
That's after a meltdown at the legislature Thursday, where tensions over tax reform talks spilled out into the open in both chambers. Leaders say negotiations are ongoing, but the public display of frustration is a clear sign they aren't going well.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca yanked 41 House bills from the Senate calendar, including a measure to ensure adequate funding for care for dementia patients, and put them on hold indefinitely. He called the move an "incentive" for the negotiations.
House Speaker Thom Tillis sent his chamber home for the next week. They won't do any committee work or take another substantive vote until July 8, after the holiday weekend.
The two sides remain billions of dollars apart on their tax reform plans, with key philosophical differences about what taxes to cut and how quickly to cut them.
Meanwhile, negotiations over the House and Senate's spending plans appear to be on hold, along with hundreds of other proposals, from voter ID to gun rights to Medicaid reform.
McCrory signed a continuing resolution Wednesday that gives lawmakers a deadline extension on the state budget until July 31. But he's signaling that it's time for the logjam to end.
"I don't want this to drag out much longer," he told The Associated Press Wednesday. "I either want to come to a consensus on a plan or move on to many of the other important items we all have to deal with."
On Friday, at an event in Jamestown, McCrory told The News & Record of Greensboro that accomplishing tax reform this year is still his goal, but if lawmakers can't come to a deal in the next two weeks, it may need to be set aside for now.
McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo stressed that the governor's goal is still to finish tax reform this month.
In response to McCrory's comments, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, “We are not ready to give up on our promise to the people of comprehensive tax reform. Now is not the time to cut and run.”
Apodaca said Thursday the governor's involvement so far has not helped to speed the process along.
"It's kind of difficult to negotiate with three bodies rather than two," Apodaca said.