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States Not Sweating Federal Tax Reform This Year

Talk of tax reform in the nation’s capital at the start of the year had state lawmakers and governors scrambling to prepare for it. But the panic has subsided, evidently because state officials no longer think it will happen before the end of the year.


Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D) said that with the “scandals and dysfunction” Republicans are facing in Washington, it seems unlikely they’ll be able to stick to their initial timetable.


Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who expressed concern about the impact of Trump’s tax plan on states to CNBC in April, now says “tax reform doesn’t appear to be one of the highest priorities of this administration.”


And Montana state Rep. Zach Brown (D) said he remembers former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-Montana) unsuccessful effort to build bipartisan support for tax reform in the last years of his long career in Congress.


“If it was too big a lift then by a seasoned coalition of statesmen, it is almost certainly out of reach to this hyper-partisan Congress and the dysfunctional Trump administration,” he said.


Max Behlke, director of budget and tax policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures, likewise, said he didn’t think tax reform was going to happen this year, given that Congress still has to deal with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the debt ceiling and reauthorization bills.


“That’s a lot of work,” he said, adding that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) also “has a different plan on taxes than the White House’s messaging.”


Karl Frieden, vice president and general counsel of the Council On State Taxation (COST), said the real deadline for tax reform is probably next year’s elections. (BLOOMBERG BNA)