Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux Says Jindal Tax Plan May Pass Despite Opposition
Chairman of the La. House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Joel Robideaux (R), will be called on to push La. Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax reform plans through the legislative process, and he says it has a chance of passing - despite all of the opposing voices.
While Robideaux does admit the governor's proposal will be hard to get legislative approval, he says it's the voice of the people that may help Gov. Jindal in his bid to reform the state's tax code by eliminating income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes.
Recently, we are starting to hear from constituents that would benefit from the package. When you get 2,000 emails from folks in your district that go to work and they realize 'Wait a second, I'm going to save $1,200 if we repeal the income tax, and that may cost me a few hundred' then it becomes a little bit more difficult for legislators to just say 'Well, this isn't good because look at all the negative opposition'.
That "negative opposition" has come from future gubernatorial candidate, Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) of Amite, who says he "think(s) it’s bad for Louisiana (and) will hurt tourism and those businesses that rely upon tourism (as well as) the middle class" and from Public Affairs Research Council President Robert Scott, who has questioned the revenue neutrality of Gov. Jindal's plan, pointing out a possible $500 to $650 million shortfall in money. And that's just to name a few. "Right now, we have certainly heard from all of those that are opposed to it," says Robideaux. "Everyone has made themselves very loud of why they are opposed to it and why they think it's a bad idea."
Gov. Jindal is promising his tax swap plan will be revenue neutral, even recently raising the projected state sales tax to 6.25 percent to do so. The Jindal administration has said more of the tax burden will shift to businesses. Jindal recently cited "a prime example of why our tax code doesn't make sense."
In 2011, we actually went in the hole on corporate income tax by more than $70 million, yet the average Louisiana family of four paid nearly $2,600 in taxes. In other words, the state actually took money from families and used it to pay companies to not pay corporate income tax.
Gov. Jindal has also cited that abolishing 200 special interest tax loopholes will make Louisiana's tax code "simpler and fairer for Louisiana families and businesses."
Robideaux says the legislative fiscal office is examining the tax proposal to see if it will do what the governor is promising.
Until we have that, I think a lot of the discussion is premature because ultimately that determines for us what the fiscal impact is - whether it's revenue neutral and how much it's going to cost or how much it's not going to cost. And so, we're still waiting on a lot of that information to come out.
The La. Legislative Session begins Monday, April 8th.