Report: 'Senate passes freeze on personal income deduction; prospects in House slim'

The Louisiana Senate voted on Wednesday to delay implementation of a expansion of an individual income tax deduction for state taxpayers.

The Senate, marking a sharp distinction from Gov. Bobby Jindal and dozens of House members, voted 29-9 today to freeze personal income tax deductions at their current level for three years in an effort to ease budget cuts for higher education.

Senate Bill 335 by Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, faces long odds given the majority of the lower chamber already on record in opposition and Jindal’s promised veto. But today’s vote, and the impassioned rhetoric that preceded it, made clear the significance of the ongoing budget debate, with senators focusing less on whether the measure is a tax increase and more on their insistence on finding money for colleges and universities.

“The important things that count today are the important things that count tomorrow,” said Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield. “I have eight grandsons. The value of higher education in their lives cannot be underestimated.”

Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said, “Sometimes we just have to be statesmen.”

The bill would leave the deduction amount at its current 65 percent, delaying the scheduled increase to a 100 percent deduction until 2012 and steering an additional $118 million to higher education.

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