WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Braun went to the Senate floor to ask unanimous consent to pass his Let States Cut Taxes Act, a bill that would put a stop to a provision in the $1.9 trillion COVID package which would prohibit states from cutting taxes.
BELOW: Read Senator Braun’s full floor remarks, the full bill text, and a letter from state Attorneys General against the provision in the COVID bill limiting their ability to cut taxes for their citizens.
SENATOR BRAUN’S REMARKS:
This past year has been hard on Hoosiers and Americans across the country.
When the economy was shut down, Congress got to work. Given my background as a business owner, I was involved in negotiating the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP.
It was part of the CARES Act, one of five bills that passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support in 2020.
Those COVID related packages totaled $4 trillion and we didn’t have a penny saved up ahead of time to prepare. That spending was on top of an annual budget that was already $4.5 trillion for the year, with a trillion dollar deficit.
We came into 2021 with over $1 trillion from those packages left unspent, but the other side of the aisle said we need to do a lot more.
Instead of working with us like before, Democrats shut us out of the process. In fact, the Senate as a whole did not work the bill through committees, it just went straight to the floor. All 1.9 trillion dollars of it.
Before this, some Republicans went to the White House to talk with the President about a bipartisan plan, knowing all of the money would be borrowed, but nothing came to fruition.
Instead, we stayed up all night and finished the bill at noon on a Saturday. The bill spent about 29 hours on the floor and not a single Republican amendment was adopted in this massive $1.9 trillion spending bill.
Instead of focusing on the virus and getting our economy back on track, this became an exercise in ramming through a liberal wish list. Only 1% of the bill went toward the vaccine. Less than 9% goes toward combating COVID-19 through public health spending.
While the Congressional Budget Office projects the economy to return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-year, only 5% of the $130 billion for K-12 schools gets spent this year – and none of it is tied to reopening our schools.
Included in this package is a whopping $350 billion for state and local governments.
Even left leaning economists and think tanks made note that the state bailouts were unnecessary. 44 states had surpluses last year when we include COVID funding.
In Indiana, our revenues from January and February this year were 15% higher than the same time last year, before the pandemic began. We were also one of the states financially prepared for the pandemic with a $3 billion plus rainy day fund.
Governor Holcomb has done a great job balancing the economy with public safety and with that, our unemployment rate is lower than most states.
Sadly the Democrats’ bill punishes states like Indiana for safely reopening. The higher a state’s unemployment rate, the more bailout money that state gets.
But it goes one step further. The Democrats were sneaky and added a provision that if states take federal money, they cannot lower their state taxes in any way through 2024.
First off, I believe this is unconstitutional and coercive. Second, we should never punish a state for putting the taxpayer first. We serve the public and should be good stewards of their money.
That’s why I introduced the Lets States Cut Taxes Act last week as a quick response to make sure Democrats do not get away with this affront to states’ rights.
My bill strikes the provisions that prohibit states’ ability to change revenues as they see fit for their state’s unique needs. Second, my bill strips out the reporting requirement where states have to tell the federal government about every revenue source and amount they take in.
This bill has the support of over 25 groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, Club for Growth, Freedomworks, Heritage Action for America, Independent Women’s Forum and the National Taxpayers Union among others. We expect more to join in the coming days.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Finance Committee Ranking Member Senator Crapo for cosponsoring this legislation along with other colleagues, Senator Blackburn, Capito, Inhofe, Marshall, Rubio, R Scott, Tillis and Young.