The Chamber supports funding for the Arts, Culture and Tourism industries. These businesses are extremely important not only to our quality of life but also to our community economic sustainability and vitality, and they have taken the hardest hit during the pandemic. House Bill 6119, “An Act Concerning Arts, Culture, and Tourism Funding” is proposed to….
H.B. 6119 Talking Points
Increasing the percentage of the hotel and lodging tax that supports the Tourism Fund from 10 to 25%: • Will help prevent further economic injury, address the impact of the shutdown, and accelerate recovery of not only the Arts sector, but all of Connecticut. The arts and culture sector is an economic driver for Connecticut and has been hit hard by the pandemic.
• Does not take funding away from another legislative priority because hotel and lodging tax revenue not currently allocated to the tourism fund goes to Connecticut’s general fund.
• Does not raise the hotel and lodging tax. It simply allocates a larger percentage of that tax revenue to the Tourism Fund.
Fixing the percentage of the Tourism Fund that is allocated to Tourism at 60% and Arts and Culture at 40% reflects how the fund is allocated now. It does not change how much funding is allocated to each.
Renaming the Tourism Fund to the Arts, Culture and Tourism fund more accurately describes its role in providing state funding to all three of these sectors.
The Commerce Committee will have a hearing on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 10:00 A.M. via Zoom. All testimony is due on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 by 3:00 P.M. You can submit testimony via zoom at the hearing. To testify in person first register HERE. Registration will close Wed Feb 10 at 3:00 PM. You can also testify by phone at 860-240-0380 or email written testimony in word or pdf format to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been answering questions about the COVID Relief bill and the budget resolution bill passed Friday. We thought this article summed up the process and the votes effectively and as apolitically as possible. This will give you all a good understanding of what happened and how it will affect your business, your families and your community………. Please read to the end, there is a great chart summing up the parts of the budget resolution.
Blog by Tori Gorman, Concord Coalition
In the wee hours of Friday morning, after more than 14 hours of rapid-fire amendments affectionately (derisively?) referred to as “vote-a-rama,” Senate Democrats finally passed their FY 2021 budget resolution and sent it to the House for its quick approval. This latest action sets up the fast-track process known as reconciliation which Democrats are expected to use to enact President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief and rescue package.
The budget resolution is not law, it is not signed by the President. It is a planning document for the current and upcoming fiscal year – so its amendments are non-binding. Still, members use their amendments to send various messages about their policy priorities, especially with respect to the contours and contents of the soon-to-be-drafted COVID reconciliation bill.
The size and scope of the proposed COVID relief and rescue bill has divided the two political parties, but the final evening of budget debate wasn’t all partisan mudslinging. At several points, Republicans and Democrats cooperated to pass amendments intended to signal support for modifications that might secure bipartisan support for the eventual COVID bill.
To start the evening, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MI) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) tag-teamed to pass an amendment recommending grants specifically for food service and drinking establishments affected by the COVID pandemic. The amendment passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, 90-10.
The 99-1 vote tally for an amendment offered by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) suggests there is broad support for COVID legislation that more narrowly targets the recovery rebate checks to those in need. Although President Biden is firm in his desire to provide $1,400 checks to individuals, he has indicated a willingness to negotiate the income eligibility ceiling of $75,000/$150,000 (single/married) that originally appeared in last year’s CARES Act.
An amendment offered by Senator Romney (R-UT) that would create congressional committees specifically tasked with developing legislation to restore and strengthen endangered federal trust funds – a nod to his TRUST Act – was adopted with strong bipartisan support, 71-29. Without legislative action, the government’s trust funds – Highway, Medicare Hospital Insurance, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance – will be exhausted in the next thirteen years.
The Senate adopted by voice vote (without opposition) an amendment from Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) that would prioritize COVID economic relief for the hospitality, travel, and tourism industries. Over half of the pandemic-related job losses have occurred in these sectors.
Additional areas of cooperation included messaging amendments pertaining to the promotion of energy independence (Murkowski #806), transparency in tracking COVID-related spending (Portman #816), limitations on the authority of states to tax income of employees working in other states (Thune #52), transparency in COVID vaccine distribution and funding for a public awareness campaign (Cardin #716), financial support for schools that lost revenue due to the Biden moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal land (Barrasso #653), a 20 percent set-aside of COVID relief funds for rural hospitals (Collins #546), additional resources for survivors of domestic violence and child abuse (Shaheen #834), and full federal funding for public safety efforts at the federal, state, and local levels (Cornyn #558).
On the tax front, the Senate majority declared out of order (non-germane) an amendment offered by Senator Grassley (R-IA) that would prohibit legislation increasing or eliminating the cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) – a major priority of House and Senate Democrats. Analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation reveals that eliminating the SALT cap would disproportionately benefit wealthy individuals. The Grassley amendment failed to secure the 60 votes necessary to override the germaneness point of order.
The Senate also rejected an amendment (#55) offered by Sen. Crapo (R-ID) that recommended permanent extension of the individual and small business tax cuts in the 2017 tax reform law. Democrats argued that a disproportionate share of that money would go towards high-income individuals. The amendment failed on a 50-50 tie.
The Senate did adopt a few amendments that potentially endanger passage of the their budget resolution in the more liberal House, leading Majority Leader Schumer and Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders to close out the evening with a substitute amendment omitting prior bipartisan amendments on fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, and illegal aliens receiving economic impact payments (recovery rebates). In the end, the Democrat’s budget resolution was adopted on a 51-50 vote with Vice President Harris in the chamber to cast the tie-breaking vote.
The House is expected to pass the Senate-passed budget resolution on Friday. At that point, committees that received reconciliation instructions officially will begin their work drafting components of the Biden COVID relief bill. The reconciliation bill is expected on the House floor no sooner than the week of February 22.
In all, the Senate processed 45 amendments in just over 14 hours, adjourning at approximately 5:30 a.m. to prepare for the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump which begins next week.
How Does Budget Reconciliation Work?
Budget reconciliation is a powerful but complex process that begins when the House and Senate Budget Committees include instructions in their annual budget resolution for other committees to develop and report legislation that has specified effects on mandatory spending, revenues, or the debt limit. If only one committee receives reconciliation instructions, its reported legislation can move directly to the floor for consideration by the full House or Senate. If more than one committee is involved, their legislation is first assembled by the Budget Committees before consideration in each full chamber. In the Senate, because of the limit on the time available to debate reconciliation bills, the bill cannot be filibustered to prevent a final vote.
As with all other legislation, if a budget reconciliation bill is passed by the House and Senate, it then goes to the president for signature or veto.
What Restrictions Apply to Budget Reconciliation?
The Senate reconciliation bill is subject to the “Byrd Rule”, which limits the types of provisions that can be included in the legislation. Most notably, the Byrd Rule disqualifies legislative provisions from reconciliation if they do any of the following:
- Increase the budget deficit beyond the budget window, which is typically 10 years
- Produce no budgetary effects or effects only incidental to the policy change
- Make changes to Social Security
How Frequently Is the Process Used?
Budget reconciliation was established as an option by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and it was first used in December 1980. Reconciliation was then used in 16 of the next 40 years. Usually, reconciliation is only used once per year (if it is used at all) but there have been four years — 1982, 1986, 1997, and 2006 — in which more than one reconciliation bill was passed by Congress. All told, a total of 21 budget reconciliation bills have been enacted into law.
The budget reconciliation process was originally focused on deficit reduction. As the Congressional Research Service notes, “reconciliation has generally been used to reduce the deficit through spending reductions or revenue increases, or a combination of the two.” Congress maintained that focus for the first two decades during which it used reconciliation.
That changed in 2000, when Congress adopted two budget resolutions that called for revenue reductions without any offsetting changes to spending. At the time, Senators debated whether it was appropriate to increase the deficit through the reconciliation process. The prevailing interpretation of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was that the reconciliation process is neutral when it comes to the deficit — and therefore the deficit can be increased by the budget reconciliation process. Since then, the Senate has, on several occasions, adopted and repealed rules that prevent deficit increases in the reconciliation process; at present, there is no such rule.
Which Laws Have Been Enacted Using This Process?
Several prominent laws have been enacted using budget reconciliation, with the most recent example being the 2017 tax cuts, often referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The expiration of some provisions at the end of 2025 was put in place to address the requirement in the Byrd Rule that the legislation as a whole could not increase the budget deficit beyond the 10-year budget window.
The reconciliation process was also used in 2010 to pass legislation that created the Affordable Care Act. Prior to that, reconciliation was used to pass the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which made major changes to federal student loans and established the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Other examples of laws that used reconciliation are tax changes in 2001 and 2003 and the reform of welfare programs in 1996.
Has the President Ever Vetoed a Budget Reconciliation Bill?
There have been four instances in which the House and Senate passed a budget reconciliation bill that was ultimately vetoed by the president — once by President Obama and three times by President Clinton. In all four cases, Congress did not override the veto and the legislation failed to become law.
Budget reconciliation is a powerful tool that lawmakers can use to adjust existing laws to guide the nation’s fiscal path. Reconciliation has been employed in times of narrow political majorities and as a practical workaround to enact controversial policies that otherwise would not make it through the legislative process. Ultimately, regardless of which budget processes are used, sound decision making by lawmakers is needed to preserve our most important programs and safeguard our fiscal future.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that CARES Act emergency aid grants for college students will not be taxed as income.