That was a strange vote yesterday on the Isett amendment to the margins tax cleanup bill. Isett proposed to raise the small business exemption from $600,000 (added in the Ways and Means committee to double the $300,000 figure in the original bill from the 06 special session) to more than $1 million. Thirty-one Democrats crossed the party divide to vote with the majority of Republicans to table the amendment. Twenty-three Republicans crossed the other way to vote with the majority of Democrats who voted not to table. What was going on here?

The real split was between spenders and fiscal conservatives. Isett’s amendment would have meant that less revenue was available. Chisum and other appropriators voted to table the amendment, thereby protecting the revenue stream. Isett and other fiscal conservatives (Bohac, Christian, Elkins, Harper-Brown, Laubenberg, Riddle, Talton, and others) voted against the motion to table, signaling their desire to reduce revenue.

I can understand why both sides were split. Whichever way either side voted carried some political peril. The choice was between providing more money for property tax cuts or helping small businesses and the majority of both parties stuck to their stereotypes. The majority of Republicans chose property tax cuts. The majority of Democrats made the opposite choice: better to help small business and leave less money for property tax cuts for the rich.