House GOP Caucus Chairman Lance Harris' tax bill received approval from the House Ways and Means Committee. The proposal would retain one third of an expiring penny sales tax and eliminate some sales tax breaks. Governor Edwards supports retaining a higher percentage of the expiring one-cent sales tax, but Harris says his legislation is a good compromise.

“This is going to be difficult to get 70 votes on the floor for anything. I think you all realize that, but the alternative is $495 million in cuts,” Harris said.

The measure heading to the House floor does not address the entire budget deficit, so if it passes, cuts in state government will be needed.

“I want to reduce the size of government because of the fact that our economy has retracted two years in a row,” Harris said.

The Edwards administration’s favored plan, New Iberia Representative Terry Landry’s tax bill, would have raised $543 million.

But Monroe Representative Democrat Marcus Hunter says Harris’s proposal has deep cuts that would damage the economy, and lead to mass layoffs of public sector workers.

“So, when Dorothy next door comes and knocks and says, ‘You know what? I appreciate you voting to raise my taxes but now I can’t pay them because I don’t have a job because…’ What happens when the department says, ‘we can’t realize those cuts’?” Hunter said.

The fiscal cliff is the result of one point four billion dollars in expiring sales taxes that were put into place two years ago to address the last budget crisis.

Hunter came out strong against the bill. He says people deserve to know exactly where those $126 million in cuts would land.

“We have to be a lot more surgical which includes listing those cuts to departments that need to be realized,” Hunter said.

The special session ends June 4th.

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