House Democrats expressed discontent today with what they called Republican irresponsibility in passing a bill that reinstates tax breaks for bull semen, among other agricultural products.
The bill passed out of the House Appropriations Committee Friday.
Democrats argued in a press release that bills with General Fund impacts are not traditionally considered by the committee until after the budget is passed. This is commonly done to ensure there’s enough money to pay for the bill.
This bill reinstates an exemption from state sales and use taxes for products used in agricultural production. The exemption had earlier been suspended, with that suspension set to expire in 2013. The exemption includes items such as pesticides and bull semen. The bill would add $1.5 million to this year’s budget shortfall and would cost an additional $3.5 million next year.
While Republicans and the agricultural community have said that the tax breaks stop money from being spent in bordering states Kansas and Nebraska, which do not tax such products, Democrats said reinstating the exemptions without specifying where the money would come from almost ensured further cuts to K-12 education.
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Niwot, who tried to amend the bill in committee in an effort to ensure the bill found funding before making its way to the House floor, issued a statement condemning the move.
“Every Republican voted against our common sense pay-as-you go amendment. And now I see why: it’s so they could continue handing out taxpayer dollars to corporations without any accountability whatsoever,” said Hullinghorst. “To provide giveaways of taxpayer dollars for bull semen at a time when we’re facing hundreds of millions of dollars in potential cuts to schools is reckless, and it is wrong. How are we going to pay for this? The answer is this: we’re not. We’ll be forced to take more money out of our children’s classrooms to pay for this tax exemption for bull semen.”
Bill sponsor Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg had not returned requests for comment on the bill at the time of publishing. However, Sonnenberg told the Denver Post in January that the bill was about ensuring that Colorado was not an economic driver for bordering states.
The House Majority Office said, as of yet, they did not plan to issue a statement in response to the Minority Office’s release.