Week Eight of the Legislative Session Wrapped Up
May 9, 2016
The House Appropriations Committee voted Monday on proposed amendments to HB 1 (state operating budget) by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, with the intent of reporting the bill to the House floor, where the full House will debate it this Thursday, May 12th. The House Ways and Means Committee will do the same today with HB 2 (capital outlay) by Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans; the goal is for the full House to likewise take action on HB 2 next Thursday. This exercise could prove interesting considering the somewhat chilly relationship between Gov. John Bel Edwards and Rep. Henry.
Gov. Edwards last week told the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that a proposed June special session will likely focus on raising revenues by reducing tax credits and rebates for corporations. He said another sales tax increase is off the table. Edwards said he will rely on recommendation from a special task force on the state's tax code headed by LSU economist Jim Richardson and Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson to determine what direction the special session should take. The governor has asked for those recommendations by May 15 and hopes to build a bipartisan consensus by relying on the report's data and analyses.
Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) President Stephen Waguespack wrote last week that LABI is strongly opposed to the second special session proposed in June. He said it's too soon to hold another tax-raising session, noting that fiscal experts don't know how much revenue new taxes passed during the first special session will actually generate.
Waguespack wrote, "The combined effect of the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions will increase business taxes by an estimated $575 million in this fiscal year and $1.2 billion next year and even more in 2018. And that is just the employer share of the burden, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in new sales and excise taxes imposed on individual taxpayers beginning last month and scheduled to continue for the next few years. In all, the efforts from these combined sessions will raise more than $4 billion in new taxes over the next five years."
Gov. Edwards told media late last week that delaying a second special session would be "irresponsible" and doing so would "create damaging cuts across state services." Edwards said, "the most responsible thing to do" is to trust current estimates and work to stop impending cuts.