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Gov. Jindal to release tax plan by March 15

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MELINDA DESLATTE
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal will unveil the details of his highly awaited tax code rewrite proposal by the end of next week, the governor's office said Tuesday.

Jindal spokesman Sean Lansing said the House will receive the proposal by March 15, as requested by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, in a letter to the governor's chief of staff, Paul Rainwater.

"I feel strongly that the House of Representatives should begin hearings on such an important issue," Kleckley wrote Tuesday. "The public needs sufficient time to review the actual proposed legislation in order for members to receive feedback from their constituency."

Lawmakers will debate the proposal in the legislative session that begins April 8, but they'll have only two months to make a decision before the session ends in June.

In January, Jindal announced that he is proposing to get rid of the state's personal and business income taxes, in exchange for higher and more sales taxes, removal of some tax breaks and other tax code changes.

But the Republican governor has yet to reveal how high he'd like to raise the sales tax, what new services he'd like to include in the sales tax or what tax exemptions and credits he'd like to scrap.

The Jindal administration has offered only broad models of what's being considered, saying the governor wanted to meet with each legislator before settling on a final tax package.

Lansing said lawmakers next week will receive the specific pieces of legislation being proposed by Jindal - and those also will be released to the public.

Kleckley said he wants the House Ways and Means Committee, which reviews tax proposals, to convene a series of hearings March 19 on the specifics of Jindal's tax plan.

"We are still in the process of finishing up meetings with legislators and stakeholders so that we can gather their ideas and continue what has been a very collaborative process," Lansing said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing those discussions, presenting the House with our proposal by the 15th and participating in the hearings."

Lansing's comments came within less than a half hour after Kleckley, a Jindal ally, released his letter pressing for the specifics of the governor's plan.

Jindal wants the tax plan to be "revenue neutral," meaning the removal of nearly $3 billion in income taxes would be offset with other tax-generating items.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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