New strain of March Madness hits Statehouse

Basketball fans aren’t the only ones suffering from March Madness this week.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann today began handing out copies of a tournament bracket that pits 32 taxes against each other in a race for revenue dominance.

It’s a fun jab at the very real deliberations going on inside the House Committee on Ways and Means right now, where lawmakers are winnowing a slate of revenue options that range from sales taxes on clothing, candy and bottled water to the elimination of capital gains exemptions and the home-mortgage interest deduction.

Scheuermann, Stowe Republican who sits on the House Committee on Commerce, has even seeded the various possibilities. A tax on items sold on vending machines earned a two-seed, and will look to advance to the second round with a win over the seventh-seeded tax on car washes. In anther first-round match up, a tax on break-open tickets will look to pull the small upset over a $15,000 cap on home-mortgage interest deductions.

No cash pool unfortunately, but the tax bracketology has made for a welcome distraction. For lawmakers on ways and means, any lightheartedness will be short-lived as they turn their focus to the very real task of coming up with a source for the $20 million in new revenues needed for next year’s budget.