Lawmakers may review industrial tax exemptions in special session

Lawmakers may review industrial tax exemptions in special session

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - State lawmakers say there's little doubt that tens of millions of dollars in tax credits will be reexamined when state lawmakers meet next month.

With a nearly $1.6 billion deficit, lawmakers, led by a new governor, will scramble to make ends meet.

"We are going to do things differently," said Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards last month.

Edwards has indicated he will call a special session next month to deal with a budget deficit estimated to be as high as $1.6 billion, and everything will be fair game.

"This is no situation any governor-elect wants to inherit," said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.

Last year, state lawmakers tackled problems with film tax credits and set a $180 million limit.  But when it comes to tax credits, they may have just scratched the surface.

"Jindal's Grover Norquist pledge really put him in a box. Even simple revenue increases that the majority of the Legislature approved, Jindal wouldn't approve," said Sherman.

"Had we looked at all the credits, we could have generated a lot more money and not face the kind of deficit we face now," said state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.

How the cuts shake out will depend largely on legislative leadership, and on the House side, a real political dogfight is shaping up.

"John Bel Edwards has 'The Dean,' Alario, taking the Senate. On the House side, he's announced support for Walt Leger, but Republican Cameron Henry is still trying to amass a coalition," said Sherman.

There's good news for taxpayers in the upcoming debate.

"The good news for citizens at home thinking about income or sales taxes, there are a lot of other new revenues that don't involve those two popular taxes to consumers," said Sherman

Eliminating or reducing corporate tax incentives, however, will not be a cinch.

"We are going to defend the ones we think are beneficial to our economy. We are not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater as it were," said Jim Patterson, with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

"We got a massive mid-year deficit, and next year's decisions are right around the corner, and there are no easy ways to cut anymore," said Sherman.

And factions are shaping up on both sides, as new political leadership takes shape. LABI says it will oppose any change to current law regarding corporate tax exemptions. Patterson said the state is contractually tied to most of those, and they may be legally untouchable.

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