U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee and a key voice during the tax reform debate, today discussed the many ways in which tax reform is already working for American families. One of Thune’s examples was the lowering of utility rates across the United States, including in Rapid City where Black Hills Energy is working with regulators to pass tax savings on to South Dakotans.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, tax reform is working.
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been the law of the land for just two months, but it’s already helping American workers.
“When it came time to draft tax reform legislation, we had one objective: make hardworking Americans’ lives better.
“And to accomplish that, we focused on two important priorities.
“First, we focused on immediately increasing Americans’ take-home pay:
“We lowered tax rates across the board.
“We nearly doubled the standard deduction.
“And we doubled the child tax credit.
“All of those provisions went into effect on January 1, and by the end of this month, 90 percent of the American people should see lower paychecks according to the IRS.
“But while immediate relief for hardworking Americans was crucial, we wanted more than that.
“We wanted to give the American people access to the kinds of jobs, wages, and opportunities that would set them up for long-term security.
“The kind of jobs and wages where they wouldn’t be forced to choose between sending their kids to college and saving for a secure retirement.
“Or between paying the mortgage and paying medical bills.
“And so in addition to lowering the tax burden on Americans directly, we set about improving the playing field for American businesses so that we could make things better for American workers.
“Needless to say, in order for American workers to thrive, the American economy has to thrive.
“And that means that American businesses have to thrive.
“It’s pretty hard for a small business to hire a new worker or raise wages if the owner can barely pay the tax bill.
“It’s unlikely that an American company is going to have a lot of spare cash for investing in its workforce if it’s struggling to compete with foreign companies paying far less in taxes.
“It’s unlikely that America’s global companies are going to focus on reinvesting in the United States if they face a tax penalty for bringing foreign earnings back home.
“And so we lowered our nation’s massive corporate tax rate, which up until January 1 was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
“We lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches.
“We expanded business owners’ ability to recover investments they make in their businesses, which will free up cash that they can reinvest in their operations and their workers.
“And we brought the U.S. international tax system into the 21st century by replacing our outdated “worldwide” system with a modernized territorial tax system, so that American businesses are not operating at a disadvantage next to their foreign competitors.
“The goal in all this was to free up businesses to increase their investments in the American economy and American workers.
“And that’s exactly what businesses are doing.
“The list of tax reform good news just keeps growing:
“The list goes on.
“Take utility bills.
“Lower utility bills might not be the first result you think of from tax reform, but tax reform is saving utility companies money, and they’re passing those savings on to consumers.
“Washington D.C. radio station WTOP reports, and I quote:
“‘In a flip-flop related to tax reform, [utility company] Pepco now says it wants to cut rates instead of raise them.
“‘In December and January, the utility announced plans to raise rates in D.C. and Maryland, respectively. …
“‘But the sweeping federal tax bill signed into law late last year meant a significant tax savings for the utility. As a result, Pepco is now asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve a rate cut.’
“Or take this story from the Daily Energy Insider, entitled ‘Federal tax cut more than reverses Eversource rate increase in Massachusetts’:
“The Daily Insider states, and I quote: ‘Many Eversource Energy electricity customers in Massachusetts who were expecting to see a rate increase this year instead will see a rate reduction because of the recent federal corporate tax cut.
“What was expected to be about a $36 million annual rate increase has turned into a $20 million annual decrease, said the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities …’
“In my home state of South Dakota, Black Hills Energy in Rapid City is working with regulators to pass tax savings on to South Dakotans.
“So far, utility companies in at least 39 states are passing tax savings on to consumers.
“And that can be a real help to family budgets.
“In Florida, Florida Power and Light Company announced that thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it will no longer require its customers to pay a surcharge for Hurricane Irma restoration.
“Instead, the company reports, and I quote, ‘FPL plans to apply federal tax savings toward the $1.3 billion cost of Hurricane Irma restoration, which will save each of FPL's 4.9 million customers an average of approximately $250.’
“Mr. President, thanks to tax reform, good news for American workers seems to pour in daily, whether it’s lower utility bills, new jobs, bonuses, or, as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced last week, lower rate increases on health insurance.
“I’m proud that tax reform is accomplishing our goal of making life better for hardworking Americans.
“And I look forward to seeing even more benefits for American workers in the weeks and months to come.”