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La. House committee continues to serve as roadblock to governor's tax ideas

House Ways and Means Committee (Source: WAFB) House Ways and Means Committee (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

While $220 million worth of tax measures advanced through the full House Thursday, the fate of several other larger revenue raising bills remains in question at the Louisiana State Capitol. 

The full House gave the thumbs up to a variety of bills, including voting 83-15 to approve a bill increasing the taxes on certain health maintenance organizations. HB 35 would generate at least $155 million next year. 

However, the House Ways and Means Committee continued to serve as an effective roadblock to other tax legislation Thursday. All revenue bills originate in that majority Republican committee at the State Capitol. 

Only one, smaller revenue-raising bill advanced through the committee Thursday. It would increase the capital gains tax breaks. With amendments aimed at appeasing some Republicans, the bill would generate less than $13 million. 

So far, bills that would generate more than $200 million have advanced through that committee. Meanwhile, bills that could bring in more than $500 million have been tabled. A bill altering the tax brackets for middle and upper income earners was voluntarily deferred for the second time Thursday. HB 40 would generate an estimated $388 million next year. 

Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson said the Edwards Administration is working with members to try to address their concerns. 

"$600 million was the number to continue state services as we currently provide them, so not getting to the $600 means we're still going to need cuts," Robinson said. 

Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, who is not a member of the committee, said she wishes more of the bigger measures were advancing to the floor, including a bill reducing how much of the federal excess itemized deduction individuals can claim on their personal income tax. 

HB 11 would bring in an estimated $117 million next year. That bill was killed in committee Wednesday by a single vote, cast by the committee’s Democratic chairman. 

A similar measure got through committee during the first special session before failing on the House floor. 

"I am very disappointed at this point in time that we don't have the kind of dollars coming out of Ways and Means that we need in order to fix the budget," Smith said. 

However, even if that measure made it to the floor, it would likely face opposition again because it would put a greater tax burden on individual taxpayers, according to Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson. 

"I want to raise revenue, I know we have to, I just want to be careful about where we do it," Havard said. 

Lawmakers will return to the Capitol Monday to continue working on fixing the budget. 

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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