State's revenue secretary abruptly resigns
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's secretary of the Department of Revenue abruptly resigned Friday after serving during the Jindal, Blanco and Foster administrations.
Cynthia Bridges submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who immediately named former state Rep. Jane Smith as interim secretary. Smith, R-Bossier City, was appointed as deputy secretary of the Department of Revenue after losing a campaign for the state Senate last fall.
"We're excited to have Jane serve as interim secretary. We look forward to working with her to implement pro-growth tax policies that will help our economy continue to grow," Jindal said in an emailed statement late Friday.
Bridges' two-page letter to the governor highlighted a list of accomplishments during her tenure, including implementation of a new integrated tax system, increased electronic tax filings, expanded web site services, reorganization of tax divisions and exceeding the revenue forecast annually since 2008.
"These successes have led to increased efficiencies while keeping the vision and mission of fairly and efficiently collecting taxes and responding to the needs of the citizens and stakeholders of Louisiana at the forefront of the agency's work. My only hope is that I have laid the groundwork for further progress in the department, as this is what the people of Louisiana deserve," Bridges wrote. "...I bid you, your team and the citizens of Louisiana, farewell. I thank you for allowing me to serve."
Bridges did not say why she was leaving the post she's held since 2000, but it comes one day after Jindal rejected a rule that would have provided lucrative tax breaks to Louisiana car buyers.
Jindal's spokesman, Kyle Plotkin, would not say why Bridges was leaving or whether she was asked to resign. When asked directly if Jindal asked for Bridges' resignation, Plotkin said: "We appreciate her service and wish her well."
Late Thursday, the governor sent a letter to Bridges rejecting the emergency declaration regarding the Alternative Fuel Tax Credit.
The News-Star reports (http://tnsne.ws/NDGB3g) new car buyers had been able to reap huge tax credits from the state that could decimate the state's budget if implemented.
"It could wreck us," House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, told the newspaper.
The declaration, which was made on April 30 and had gone largely unnoticed, lists 112 models of cars and trucks that qualify, including some of the most popular sold in the state. Though Act 469 has been in effect since 2009, the list of qualifying vehicles was expanded greatly by the emergency declaration because of the addition of "flex fuel" factory vehicles designed with the ability to burn ethanol.
The impact of the ruling is multiplied because Louisianians who bought qualifying autos in 2009, 2010 and 2011 can go back and amend their tax returns to apply for the credits. Though the ultimate price tag for the program isn't clear, Fannin estimated it could be $100 million or more.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)