Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Reynolds seeing little support for Gov. Jindal’s tax reform proposal

District 10 Rep. Gene Reynolds is back in Baton Rouge this week as the legislative process continues after last week's announcement that Gov. Bobby Jindal withdrew his tax reformation proposal.

"We got down there (last) Monday and started hearing rumors that the governor was going to pull his tax reform plan," Reynolds said. "Before I went down there, I heard there was not much support up here.

"When I got down there, it was really obvious there was not much support for it at all," he continued. "The governor's package was pretty well dead on arrival and everybody knew it."

Reynolds said Jindal's speech put the weight of finding a solution on the House of Representatives.

"He pretty much said okay you guys can do it," Reynolds said.

The Ways and Means Committee will look at bills this week that aim to eliminate income tax but in ways that differ from Jindal's plan.

"House Bill 271 by Hunter Green suggests to phase out income taxes over 10 years with no reciprocating money," Reynolds explained. "In other words, no money to make up the 3.6 billion in taxes.

"Hunter's comments have been that we would find a way to make it up over the 10-year period," he continued. "A lot of folks don't like the uncertainty of that. I think it will have a tough time getting out of committee."

According to Reynolds, Katrina Jackson's three House Bills (609, 626 and 623) would reduce income tax over a period of years, reduce the corporate tax over a few years and add in a tobacco tax to make up for some of the money.

"Those bills may or may not make it," Reynolds said. "The fact that it offers one way to make up for the loss of funds from the income tax is good."

Louisiana's combined sales tax, according to the tax foundation, is at an 8.5 percent average for local and state taxes combined, which makes the state the third highest in the nation in sales tax.

"So if we add new sales tax on top of the existing, we will easily be number one as far as highest sales tax in the country," he continued. "Four percent at state level, when you add the average local rate of 4.77 percent, that's 8.78 percent tax rate.

"The highest is Tennessee with 9.44," Reynolds said. "If we raised it 2.5 cents or raised it much higher at all, we could easily be the highest sales tax in the nation. That's one of the things that killed Jindal's bill."

While no bills left committee last week, Reynolds believes this legislative session will be productive.

"We voted on nothing this past week," he said. "There were several resolutions and there was a lot of talking back and forth between groups.

"One of the big differences I see this year is you have Independents, Republicans and Democrats all working together in groups in different projects," he continued.

"That didn't happen a whole lot last year."

Reynolds said he feels his membership as a Fiscal Hawk and as a Democrat helps open the door for discussion.

"I think we will get some really good things done," he said. "I think the consensus of the bills (this) week, is that everyone wants to do away with income tax, we just have to figure out a way to do it."

However, if the bills fail this week Reynolds does not see doing away with income tax as a likely occurrence.

"It probably won't happen if these bills fail," he said. "So we would likely revisit that issue next year, meaning budget reform will take center stage."

Reynolds said he will continue to provide legislative updates and hopes to hear from residents in District 10.

"People should be involved in the process," he said. "I look forward to hearing from people in my district and hearing their thoughts and concerns. That is how me make decisions and we have some pretty big decisions coming up."






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