Senate Amends Tax Renewal Bill
A Senate committee has made major changes to GOP House Chairman Lance Harris’ sales tax bill and now the legislation will raise enough revenue to fill a projected budget shortfall for next fiscal year.
The panel removed more sales tax exemptions than what the House called for and Harris doesn’t see the Senate version passing the lower chamber.
"I'll tell you right where right I am," said Harris. "Anything more than a third of a penny, any thing more than this bill does, I will vote against it."
The legislation approved by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee sets the state's sales tax at 4.33% on July 1st. It's currently at 5%. And the Senate version also eliminates sales tax exemptions for manufacturing machinery, farm equipment and business utilities, which would produce an extra 300-million dollars.
So, the Senate proposal would raise 642-million dollars, which nearly addresses the entire projected revenue shortfall. Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau also criticized Republicans for proposing to reduce government spending, but not identifying what shouldn't be funded.
"If you think you can cut, then identify what you can cut. don't hide them from us," Luneau said.
Lafayette Senator Gerald Boudreaux echoed the thoughts of many of the committee members, when he said he’s not moving any bill that forces hundreds of millions in cuts to state services, and he’ll find the money to fund those services one way or another.
"I'm not going to pick winners and losers, I don't care if I get re-elected or not, said an animated Boudreaux. "If we need 400, 500 or 600, I'm going to fight to get to 600-million dollars."
The measure heads to the Senate floor for more debate.