It won't be easy resolving the differences in the House and Senate versions of the General Assembly's budget plans. And there is little time to reach a compromise: The constitutional deadline is midnight Monday.
Both chambers passed quarter-billion-dollar tax packages to fortify the general state treasury. The House had the good sense to create a new 6 percent tax bracket for the rich and to ask corporations to pay a bit more to help close the state's $1.2 billion budget gap. The Senate, meanwhile, took the sensible position that beer, wine and liquor taxes -- as well as cigarette taxes -- should be increased substantially.
And in an even more significant move, the Senate approved a substantial expansion of the state's 5 percent sales tax to include repairs (computers, televisions, watches, refrigerators, etc.) and some services (dry cleaning, lawn care, security services, tanning salons and cellular telephones). This is only fair: Extending the sales tax to repairs and services makes the tax more equitable for everyone and more progressive.