Louisiana governor's business tax shelved amid opposition

Louisiana governor's business tax shelved amid opposition

Gov. John Bel Edwards' centerpiece business tax proposal, estimated to raise more than $416 million a year in new tax revenue, is getting its first legislative hearing.

The House Ways and Means Committee is set to spend two days to dive into what's called a "gross receipts tax".

State Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, said he would vote in favor of Edwards' CAT bill carried by Jones, but admitted the bill has virtually no chance of clearing the committee.

The biggest opposition to the Commercial Activity Tax comes from businesses, who say it's a burdensome tax at a time when the state's economy is struggling.

But he says he's looking for House leaders to "step up, offer solutions and not just continue to say no".

"I don't disagree with that". But GOP House leaders haven't championed a package of ideas - or agreed on how much of the temporary taxes they'd like to replace. Edwards is backing other bills that decrease the individual income tax rate, alter tax incentives, limit spending and restructure the sales tax base, among other fiscal proposals.

The governor proposed the plan as a way, he said, of making sure businesses pay their "fair share". He cites data that 80 percent of corporate income tax filers in Louisiana didn't pay state income taxes in 2015. But there's little public support for the proposal, even from the Democratic governor's allies.

PG&E and Redding veterans celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees
Governor Scott Walker issued a proclamation recognizing Forest Appreciation Week and Arbor Day. Centralia has once again been named a Tree City USA Community for 2016.

Lawmakers have until Thursday, June 8 to put together and pass a tax reform plan if they want to do so this session.

Under the proposal, varying levels of tax would be paid depending on business type, their levels of gross receipts and considerations for how they file taxes.

"Everyone is expected to do their share", replied Jones, a Democrat who is carrying the CAT bill for the governor. "Honestly? That's an insult", said Mitch Rotolo, owner of Rotolo's Pizzeria, which has 31 restaurants in four states.

"Those folks have no lobbyists except you and me", Jones told the committee, contrasting working families with businesses represented by what he described as a room packed with "Armani suits".

"We're going to kill it today or (Tuesday)", said Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, a member of Ways and Means.

Kimberly Robinson, Edwards' revenue secretary, said the administration doesn't intend to revive the proposal.

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