So said state Sen. Declan O’Scanlan with dripping sarcasm today just before Democrats passed a $50 billion state budget for 2022-23.
His exclamation was about a sales tax holiday later this year for school supplies. O’Scanlan’s point was simple.
No one is going to get excited about paying no tax when they buy a few pencils or notebooks. In fact, he called the whole thing a joke.
A few minutes later, Nicholas Scutari, the Democratic Senate President, responded and addressed Republicans.
“You say pooh, pooh,” Scutari said, mimicking GOP claims the sales tax holiday isn’t meaningful.
But, “people will take the money,” he said.
He’s probably right about that.
In fairness, the Senate debate on the budget was a bit more sophisticated than “woo hoo” and “pooh pooh,” but then again, you’ve heard it before.
It really didn’t matter that the state surplus is exceptionally high – a rare departure from previous years.
Argument wise, the bottom line was very much the same.
Republicans said the state is spending too much.
Democrats said the state is doing great things.
Scutari, in fact, said the budget provides the greatest property tax relief ever. That sets a pretty high bar.
He’s talking about a property tax rebate program that Dems say will give $2 billion worth of relief. That is a huge number, but as Republicans pointed out, the rebates won’t be realized until next May. That is a long time for families struggling with inflation to wait.
Republicans wanted to give families a more direct benefit of $1,500 – and now.
By any objective measure, the GOP has a point. With an estimated surplus of $6 billion, why not do something now to help people?
Of course, the Democrats made some good points in the debate as well.
Their spending plan includes about a billion dollars for school construction.
Democratic Sen. Vin Gopal said that while many Republicans will oppose the measure, they’ll likely show up to celebrate when school projects in their districts get underway.
Or as he put it:
“I’m sure I’m going to see many of them at the ribbon cutting.”
You can bet on that.