Archive for June 23, 2011

‘Gov. Bobby Jindal "not fighting" cigarette tax extension grafted onto bill’

The Times-Picayune reports that the renewal of a four-cent cigarette tax is likely to win approval in the legislature, and then move on to a referendum before Louisiana voters.

Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego, said Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has agreed not to try to strip the cigarette-tax language from his Senate Bill 53, which also would dedicate tobacco-settlement money to the TOPS college scholarship program.

“They’re not fighting it,” Alario said.

The House resurrected the cigarette tax this week by tacking it onto the TOPS amendment, which is a top priority for the governor and a key component of the state budget picture. It came after Jindal vetoed a separate bill that would have permanently extended the tax, which generates about $12 million a year, and the House failed to override the veto.

Jindal said extending the tax is the same as an increase and would violate his promise to oppose all tax increases. Although two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate had agreed to the bill, the governor was able to persuade 11 House members who supported the original bill to switch sides and vote against the override.

By adding the tax language to a constitutional amendment, supporters were able to circumvent a possible veto because amendments go straight to voters and do not require a governor’s signature.

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‘Income tax repeal bill near death’

The Advocate reports that a bill to repeal Louisiana’s state income tax has little chance of passing in the waning hours of the 2011 legislative session.

Despite a last-minute flurry of appeals, a bid to gradually repeal Louisiana’s personal income tax at a cost of $5.4 billion was floundering and near death in the Legislature on Wednesday.

The 2011 regular session has to end at 6 p.m. Thursday and the chief sponsor vowed to press on.

“I am going to try every hour on the hour,” said state Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete and chief sponsor of the plan, which is in Senate Bill 259.

But, despite repeated tries, Marionneaux was unable to clear a procedural hurdle Wednesday needed for the bill to get another hearing, and have any chance of final approval.

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‘Big, bad budget didn’t happen"

Jim Beam, in the Lake Charles American Press, opines that the worst-case budget scenarios predicted for the 2011 legislative session did not come to pass:

If you see any bodies at the bottom of the cliff, let me know. I haven’t found any yet.

We heard a lot about the state falling off a cliff because of a $1.6 billion shortage in the new budget year that takes effect July 1, but a spending plan has been approved and casualties are hard to find.

The House got the budget first and cut $200 million more than Gov. Bobby Jindal wanted. The governor’s troops hit the ceiling over that one, but the Senate came to the rescue when it got the spending plan.

Unlike all the king’s men and horses for Humpty Dumpty, the Senate was able to put the budget back together again.

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