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|Income taxes and politics|
The Legislature needs to quit playing fast and loose with an important piece of legislation that would cut state income taxes for people who make anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.
Legislation offered by Sen. Buddy Shaw, R-Shreveport, would cut the state's income tax rates for wage earners in the $25,000 to $50,000 bracket to levels the state levied prior to the passage of the so-called Stelly Tax plan of 2002.
Shaw's measure would result in the state losing some $300 million annually in income tax revenues. That's a small sacrifice for the state to make when one considers the state is staring at some $1 billion in excess revenues these days. It's also a small sacrifice when one considers the hardships people making $25,000 to $50,000 per year face each day to make ends meet.
When Shaw's bill surfaced in a Senate committee, lawmakers easily approved it.
On the floor of the Senate, though, Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Abbeville, offered an amendment to abolish state income taxes altogether. The amendment passed, and the Shaw bill was sent to the House of Representatives, carrying a price tag of a $4-billion hit to state treasury.
While it has been suggested the Jindal administration worked in support of the Gautreaux amendment in an effort to ultimately kill the Shaw bill, we will not engage in a flippant game of speculating on who did what, when and where. We'll leave that to the radio talk show hosts.
Instead, we encourage the House to strip Gautreaux's amendment from the Shaw bill and approve the legislation as it was originally written.
At that point, the measure would be sent back to the Senate. The Senate would do well to concur.
Yet, we are intrigued by the proposal to abolish state income taxes. It is a proposition, though, that the Legislature should explore at a future date.
At the very least, the Legislature needs a plan on how to deal with a loss of some $4 billion in revenues before it contemplates legislation to abolish state income taxes.
In the meantime, the Legislature should pass the Shaw bill as it was originally proposed and give Louisiana's working families a tax cut they desperately need.
It's just plain wrong to play politics with people's lives, especially hard-working folks who have been blindsided by sky-high energy prices and the like.