The Democratic leadership in the House made a controversial move Wednesday when it decided to force the Senate Democratic caucus to own up to its gas tax holiday and force House Republicans, who have been pushing the gas tax holiday, to vote against it by attaching it to an amendment that creates a progressive income tax.
The amendment which passed 92 to 57 Wednesday at about 6 p.m. would then have to go back to the Senate for a vote because it was not attached to the same bill the Senate passed 19 to 17 early this morning. The final House vote was taken at about 8:45 p.m. and passed 90 to 58.
Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he’s “stunned” and called Speaker James Amann’s attempt to marry the two bills, “a farce.”
“If he thinks he’s putting Republicans in a box by forcing them to vote against a gas tax holiday, he’s fooling no one,” Cafero said outside the House chambers around 5 p.m.
Cafero said Amann was emphatic about saying the gas tax holiday wouldn’t come up for a debate, then when it came up for a vote in Senate early this morning he was embarrassed. “They could have amended the bill that came down from the Senate,” with the gas tax holiday,” but they didn’t, he said.
“You talk about kindergarten. People aren’t stupid,” Cafero said.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said this is the time, at the end of session, when anything can happen. “We all have to be flexible and work with those pressures,” he said.
He said it’s likely the Senate would take up the House bill Thursday or Friday this week.
In an ideal world the bill would go straight to the governor, but the House wanted to deal with the gas tax holiday, he said. The Senate wanted to deal with the gas tax issue separately from the budget, but he said he doesn’t begrudge his House colleagues for going at it the way they did.