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Senate to debate bills that will lessen tax breaks

by Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Senate will consider proposals to whittle away at Louisiana’s tax break programs to keep more money in the state treasury for spending.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee advanced a handful of bills Monday to the full Senate for consideration that would lessen or eliminate tax breaks as Louisiana continues to struggle with financial problems.

One measure would get rid of a personal income tax credit, which allows parents to take up to $25 per child for educational expenses. Committee Chairman J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, said he wants to use the $13 million in annual savings for other education programs that help more students, including to fill gaps in the TOPS college tuition program.
“This is a credit that, in my opinion, is underutilized and unknown,” Morrell said.

Another Morrell bill headed to the full Senate for debate would continue temporary reductions made to a personal income tax credit for taxes paid to other states, to save the state more than $31 million annually. A third proposal by the chairman would eventually end a tax credit for certain recycling equipment purchases, a credit that Morrell said wasn’t being used.

The committee also advanced a Morrell constitutional amendment that would limit a property tax break given to manufacturers in Louisiana, so that it couldn’t apply to the portion of property taxes dedicated to local public schools, starting in 2019. If backed by lawmakers, the proposal also would require approval from the state’s voters.

Morrell’s proposals advanced without objection, though some are expected to run into opposition on the Senate floor. Opponents didn’t speak against the bills in committee.

A proposal by Sen. Barrow Peacock, a Bossier City Republican, would place new limits on Louisiana’s sales tax holiday for hunting supplies, known as the Second Amendment sales tax holiday. On the first weekend of September, state sales taxes still wouldn’t be charged on firearms, ammunition and archery supplies, but the sales tax holiday would no longer apply to off-road vehicles, airboats, hunting clothes and some other items. The measure won narrow support from the committee, in a 4-3 vote.

Amid resistance, Peacock temporarily shelved his proposal to limit use of a tax break program for vehicle conversations to alternative fuel and the purchase of vehicles that operate only on alternative fuels. The senator questioned if the income tax credit was still affordable. But committee members like Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, said they had concerns about lessening a tax break program “to clean up the environment.”

“All exemptions are not created equal,” said Sen. Troy Carter, a New Orleans Democrat. “Some exemptions do have a benefit to the state.”

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