Friday, 22 June 2018 18:31

Is Louisiana legislative session nearing agreement on sales tax increase?

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lege agree 6According to a tweet by Times Picayune capitol bureau reporter Julia O'Donoghue, who knows, there might be some type of compromise in the legislature during the special session. The reporter indicated today that the "Talk is that the new sales tax rate that they will be trying to pass in the House is a 4.45 sales tax rate. That's between the 4.4 sales tax rate the House GOP wanted and the 4.5 sales tax rate".


For those keeping score, at the end of the second fiscal session earlier this month, it appeared that the gap was .17 of a penny, that is, .5 of a penny sales tax versus .33 percent of the penny. Yesterday, the House could not pass a .45 of a penny revenue raiser. Are the tired and worn out legislators willing to split the difference?

Below is a segment of the newsletter from the Louisiana Budget Project and under that is the current twitter feed involving the Louisiana legislature:

The House stalls again
After a day of heated negotiations and long delays on Thursday, the House failed to pass any tax measures to replace expiring revenue and avoid the fiscal cliff. Early in the day, Rep. Stuart Bishop withdrew his HB 4 (which would have replaced a half-cent of sales tax and had support from the Legislative Black Caucus), leaving just two tax bills alive. In the end, House members voted only on one revenue bill: HB 10 by Rep. Paula Davis. Before the vote, the body agreed to amend her bill from its original 0.4 percent sales tax renewal to a 0.5 sales tax, to avoid the $85 million in cuts that would be required if the state sales tax is just 4.4 percent next year. Melinda Deslatte of AP has more:


Lawmakers voted 60-40 for the bill, which needed 70 votes to pass. It would renew half of a 1 percent state sales tax expiring on July 1 to raise more than $500 million for the budget that starts the same day. The proposal was sponsored by Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Paula Davis. But the bill was rewritten by lawmakers on the House floor, boosted from Davis' initial proposal of a 0.4 percent renewal. Davis didn't support the rewrite. Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras and House GOP leader Lance Harris, along with many Republicans in the chamber, voted against the measure. 

The extreme gridlock in the House is causing the Senate to grow increasingly impatient. Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate:
Legislative leaders said they had hoped the House would advance a sales tax bill to the Senate by Thursday evening to keep the process moving and give the upper chamber adequate time to vet proposals before final negotiations. "We're a bit disappointed that nothing's coming over to us," said Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego. But Alario said the House is walking a delicate line. "They've got to figure out the balancing act," Alario said.
While the House is trying to figure out a "balancing act," Senate leaders have crafted a solution of their own - one that only requires 53 votes in the House. Sue Lincoln with The Bayou Brief has the scoop:
SCR 6 pushes back the sunset date on the 5th penny of sales tax for 14 months. As a concurrent resolution, it only requires a simple majority vote in both chambers. Resolutions don't go to the governor for signature - or veto - instead they go directly to the files of the Secretary of State. Think of it as the Machiavelli option.
The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved SCR 6 this morning by a vote of 7-2. The House is scheduled to convene before the lunch hour to try, yet again, to move forward with a tax bill of their own. Click here for the livestreams.


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