Seniors and property owners wouldn't see any savings before January 2012 and wouldn't get the full benefit of the tax breaks until January 2016, when fully phased in.
Porter and other Democrats argued that state law says no bill that has a "significant impact on the anticipated revenue or expenditure level of any ... state agency" can be considered by the House or Senate if it is introduced after the 20th day of the legislative session. The law also requires an official estimate, known as a fiscal note, of a bill's impact on state revenues.
The bill was approved in the House and Senate on April 15, the 36th day of the 40-day session. It was introduced well before the 20th day, but no fiscal note was included. The bill passed largely along party lines as Democrats questioned whether the bill was legal as amended. Both Ralston and Cagle overruled Democrats' objections and said the bill was allowable.
"The apparent failure of the General Assembly to adhere to laws generally applicable here raises significant legal questions that could result in challenges to the process engaged by the Legislature," said Baker, a Democrat seeking the party's nomination for governor. Porter is one of his four opponents in the Democratic primary.
But Baker said the "ultimate question ... is whether a court would determine there exists a substantive remedy for the failure to follow the procedural requirements established" in state law.
Baker said he has not been privy to what legal advice Cagle and Ralston received in ruling the bill allowable, so "it is impossible for me to ascertain whether or not their decision making was consistent" with state law.
Baker noted, however, that the state Supreme Court has ruled that the lack of a fiscal note on a bill signed into law does not necessarily mean the bill is unconstitutional.
Staff writer Nancy Badertscher contributed to this article.