"Maybe she is playing politics or maybe she and her staff are inept," said House Speaker Tom Craddick, who added he was taken aback by the news.
"Either way, I assure you that we stand by this bill. The comptroller's office certified it, and we are going forward with HB3 as is," he said.
Strayhorn said she could not begin analyzing HB3 until it was sent to the Senate last week because of the number of amendments that were added during floor debate.
Problems with HB3 began to emerge as soon as it was first voted out of committee on March 2. Strayhorn warned then that the bill would not raise enough revenue and on March 7, the committee reconsidered the bill and added the snack tax.
The committee version mandated all Texas businesses to pay a 1.15 percent tax on payroll. But as the bill headed toward floor debate, lobbyists for labor-intensive businesses such as grocery stores and airlines began complaining about the burden of the payroll tax.
A business-friendly alternative emerged that would allow companies to choose between the payroll tax and the franchise tax, which is 0.25 percent of assets or 4.5 percent of net income. Craddick delayed a scheduled floor debate for March 11 to work over the weekend on loopholes that might allow businesses to avoid paying.
Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton said he waited all that weekend to see new language to close the loopholes, but nothing was ever presented to him.
"If you give them the choice, chances are they're going to pay a lot less in tax," said Hamilton.
Hamilton said a loophole that would allow staff-leasing companies to avoid the payroll tax also was not addressed.
Strayhorn said Craddick told her on March 11 that "he did not need our help and would not need a fiscal note until the bill was sent to the Senate."
I think the most interesting tidbit in this story is right here:
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he and senators knew months ago of the comptroller's concern about giving businesses tax options without setting a minimum requirement. He declined to discuss the House plan.