The Latest: Edwards says La. tax deal still can be reached
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on Louisiana’s special legislative session (all times local):
Gov. John Bel Edwards says he remains committed to reaching a tax deal with Louisiana lawmakers, even as disagreements have delayed House tax votes.
Votes scheduled for Monday on a package of tax bills were scrapped, with continued divides over which tax types should be used to help close a nearly $1 billion budget gap.
The Democratic governor said Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras failed to capitalize on the momentum of Sunday’s House committee action advancing the tax measures.
In a floor speech Monday, Barras suggested members of the Black Caucus threw a wrench in tax talks by reviving an income tax proposal that GOP lawmakers oppose. Barras called on the governor to intervene and offer “clearer direction.”
Edwards met with the House speaker at lunch as negotiations continue.
Tax debates in the Louisiana House again have gotten bogged down in disagreement.
A vote scheduled for Monday on a package of tax bills has been delayed, with continued divides over which tax types should be used to help close a nearly $1 billion budget gap.
House Republicans who are willing to consider taxes are backing a sales tax plan, while Democrats — particularly member of the Black Caucus — want changes to personal income taxes.
Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras said in a floor speech Monday that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards needs to be “more clear” in what tax approach he wants to take, suggesting the governor needs to help broker a compromise.
The special session called by Edwards must end March 7.
The sales tax proposal advancing in the Louisiana House to help close a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall caused by expiring taxes would repeat the problem three years later. The bill would only enact temporary sales tax changes, causing a new budget gap in 2021.
Several lawmakers say they disagree with creating another self-inflicted financial problem.
Senate President John Alario says enacting a short-term tax change to fill holes “should concern the people of the state.” He says that makes it difficult for colleges, health providers, state agencies and the people who rely on state services to plan for the future.
The bill would temporarily renew one-quarter of an expiring 1 percent sales tax and temporarily eliminate some sales tax breaks. The proposal is scheduled for House debate Monday.