Raleigh, N.C. — Senate leaders are apparently ready to push ahead with their own tax reform bill as negotiations with the House and Governor's Office drag on.
The Senate Finance Committee put out a notice Friday that they would meet Monday at 2 p.m. and take up House Bill 998, the tax reform bill. After tentatively approving their version of tax reform earlier this month, senators pulled the bill back from consideration so they could negotiate with House leaders.
Those negotiations, complete with input from Gov. Pat McCrory, have proved frustrating for Senate leaders.
"We're still working," said Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis.
House leaders don't believe they have an agreement on tax reform. The House is not scheduled to hold a formal meeting to do legislative business until July 8. The Senate expects to be working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
"The House and Senate are still working together. We have not reached consensus," said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, the House's lead tax negotiator. "The House Republican Caucus remains committed to the principles of tax policy we outlined in the tax reform which passed the House. We do respect our Senate Colleagues and continue with them. We are getting closer.
"I feel very confident the Senate will pass a Bill that addresses many of the House priorities and will make it easier for the two Chambers to work together in Conference to deliver real tax reform that helps hard working North Carolina taxpayers," he said.
Senators could have merely brought back their previous version of House Bill 998 for a final vote and sent the measure over to the House. Calling a committee meeting suggests they plan to tweak the measure at least a small amount before hearing it again.
“Tax reform negotiations with the House continue. We’ve made a lot of progress and have reached consensus in several key areas. We will continue to negotiate throughout the weekend. But the time has come for the Senate to move the tax reform process forward. We hope the bill in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday will represent a final agreement. But if not, we’re confident we can work out any remaining differences in conference," Senate Leader Phil Berger said in a statement.
Officials working for McCrory say he has not offered his own plan, but lawmakers say he circulated a compromise measure in recent weeks.