BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's business-lobbying groups are calling a centerpiece of Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget proposal a multimillion-dollar tax hike on business, pitting the governor against powerful industry leaders in the upcoming legislative session.Maybe someone else can.
The Republican governor wants to lessen spending on refundable tax credits, in which the state pays out more than the taxes a person or business owes. He proposes to use the savings to pay for public colleges and health care services in the fiscal year that begins July 1, as he looks for ways to close a $1.6 billion budget gap.
Business organizations object to the most expensive tax break targeted: the inventory tax credit, which refunds businesses for paying local property taxes on their inventory. Jindal wants to limit the credit to only cover a business' state tax liability, which the administration estimates would save the state as much as $377 million annually.
State Sen. Ben Nevers and Rep. Harold Ritchie, both Democrats from Bogalusa, have introduced similar bills calling for a new tax on the oil and natural gas industry. The purpose of the legislation is to direct more money to higher education and health care services -- which are facing drastic cuts next year.Although probably not.
"We wanted to make sure the topic was discussed on both sides of the Legislature," Nevers said.
Nevers and Ritchie's measures call for at least $300 million from the proposed oil and gas tax to be spent on higher education, $250 million to go to health care services, $80 million to go to prekindergarten or early childhood programs, $250 million to go to state employee retirement benefits and $150 million to go to transportation needs.