Wednesday, 21 February 2018 19:07

Tidmore: Expect at least one-fourth penny sales tax from special session for fiscal cliff

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tidmore live febWhat’s going to happen with the popular tuition program for Louisiana university students, called TOPS?  Will any part of the penny sales tax that was passed as a temporary measure two years ago remain on the books? Back then, the legislature, facing a nearly one-billion dollar shortfall that needed to be made up in a matter of three months, arising from the Governor Bobby Jindal administration budget meltdown worsened by lower oil prices, opted for a single penny sales tax that will sunset later this year.  

These were just some of the issues discussed today when Christopher Tidmore, the political editor for the Louisiana Weekly took the Bayoubuzz FACEBOOK LIVE “hot seat” this morning to reveal, from his perspective, what the legislature is doing this special session that started Monday in terms of ensureing the state does not fall down a nearly one billion dollar fiscal cliff.. The Louisiana legislative session is set to last seventeen days, if not ending before.

Below is the transcribed portion of the first part of the interview with Tidmore. Also below is the entire video.  Tidmore does an excellent job summarizing the first two days of the session, the many ideas being presented and the politics involved. This segment ends at the 4 minute, 44 second mark.

Part 2, tomorrow 

Yesterday two major things have happened this legislative session, one a bill that came out of the Appropriations Committee yesterday House bill 12, we'll talk about that in a second.  But today pretty much every, in fact, in just a few minutes, every single tax bill will be considered by Neal Abramson's House Ways and Means Committee. Despite the fact, of course, this is the one committee with the Democratic Chairman Neal Abramson tends to vote with the Republicans for those that don't know his political profile he represents uptown New Orleans, relatively socially Democratic, but fiscally conservative and so it you should see effectively at least one bill definitely come out of the committee today and that is a 1/4 sales tax that will be permanent to fund the Taylor opportunity program for students better known as TOPS. There is also a debate on an extra half penny of temporary sales taxes. Some people want to do that as a as a as a as a quarter penny, some people want to do is a half penny of temporary taxes, we'll see what that goes. There is a major move though to try to restructure the state personal income tax system in a way not seen since Stelly Plan.  It's called the collapsing program. I don't know if that's the greatest title but it what it effectively would be it would lower, it would take the top six percent break that kicks in around $50,000 and have it kicked in around $30,000, for an individual or 60 for a married couple but effectively the rates that are 2% up to twelve -ive and then four percent up to 50 would effectively go away with the idea being that we would kind of have a more higher income tax on the middle class but at the same time we'd be able to get rid of one penny in sales tax.


 I can honestly tell you I would be shocked if that got out of the Ways and Means Committee today. It is a major priority of the governor's--that it but it is it is dead on arrival for a lot of these Republican legislators and it's not just ideology.  Most of them were elected you must remember in 2007 in reaction to the Stelly plan. The Stelly plans elimination of personal deductions was hugely unpopular in in the districts that they're from, they tend to be middle-class districts, a lot of small business owners, so getting rid of itemized deductions probably be dead on arrival but it has at least started the conversation--should we restructure our our personal income tax system?  Is it the right system?   

The one thing that is a priority of the Republicans is to take TOPS off the table as a negotiating tactic by the governor. The amount of negative press that Republican members had by that 70 percent cut in the scholarship program for 50,000 students was overwhelming.  They're willing to take the bite of a quarter penny permanent and sales taxes just to make sure that never happens again.  After that though the fights gonna get really interesting--members, the the Democratic leader in the house has said he's very skeptical about any sales taxes.  Members of the Black Caucus I was meeting with a couple of them yesterday, they were basically saying you know this is not what we want, this is, we don't our people "don't get much out of TOPS" and frankly we're gonna we're gonna fight against the sales tax, if they're not willing to do an income tax.  There's actually a feeling about cuts, and so my guess, is what happens in the next couple of days is that the house does present this sales tax increase at probably a half a penny of temporary and permanent taxes, may be as much as three quarters of a penny-- will say to the entire house it requires a 2/3 majority in the house before it could advance the Senate.  The Senate came into session on Monday and then abruptly recessed until Sunday, so they won't even, they'll see it that whatever comes to them then Sunday and a lot of key votes will happen on Friday.   it's a lot of information to throw through


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