Higher sales tax increase being considered by lawmakers - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Higher sales tax increase being considered by lawmakers

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) -

Lawmakers are considering an even larger hike in the state sales tax as time winds down on the special session.

Last week, Democrats and Republicans agreed to increase the sales tax by a penny to address the state's nearly $1 billion deficit for this fiscal year. 

"There is discussion of increasing it. I think two pennies isn't the accurate number. It's pretty high. There is a possibility to increase it a little bit more just for a short period of time because the shortfall that we are dealing with is pretty high," said Metairie Rep. Cameron Henry said. 

Lawmakers already approved increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco. With more cuts or money needed, Henry feels confident lawmakers will fix the deficit. 

"It's going to be a mixture of Republicans and Democrats. It has to be to accepted. We all get along fine. It's not an issue," Henry said. 

But not all lawmakers in the House are getting along fine, according to some in the Legislature. 

"It's divided. We have a core group of us that have come together, but we can't get a lot of these things done without 70 votes," Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno said.  

Moreno opposes an additional sales tax increase. 

Several lawmakers and workers at the Capitol say a group, mostly from the Acadiana region, have voted no to all increased tax proposals, which has made balancing the budget more difficult. 

"There is a small contingency in the House that votes no to every single one of the revenue-raising bills, yet they offer no solutions," Moreno said. "That's what causing the big problem in the House and why we can't get anything out of there." 

"We already have the third-highest sales tax rate in the country. We now will have the highest sales tax in the country," Kenner Rep. Julie Stokes said. "If we went up beyond five cents, that would bring some sales tax rates in some of the parishes to over 12 percent. That's very high. I wish to have a more comprehensive approach than just putting everything on sales tax, but there hasn't been much tolerance on anything but sales tax." 

Lawmakers have until 6 p.m. Wednesday to fix this year's financial budget issues.

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