Senate leaders unanimously forward $615M in tax bills

Senate leaders unanimously forward $615M in tax bills

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Eleven up, eleven down with no objection and no changes, $615 million is still alive in the Louisiana legislature.

"Whatever you say here you will have the opportunity to say again," said Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton.

The new money comes from eleven tax bills passed by the House two weeks ago. On Monday, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee passed those same measures as well.

The first three bills came from Rep. Katrina Jackson. She's proposing to cut some corporate tax breaks by 20 to 25 percent.

"This is a bipartisan piece of legislation that even handedly attempts to begin reconcile the structural issues with our budget," said Rep. Jackson, D-Monroe.

Also sailing through, the 32 cent cigarette tax hike from Rep. Harold Ritchie.

"I'm an expert smoker. I started back in 1965 when I was 15 years old," said Rep. Ritchie, D-Bogalusa.

A $200 million film tax credit cap bill from Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, also passed. Unlike other similar measures, this one is supported by film advocates, but they're hoping for some changes in the weeks ahead.

"Let's find a cap that doesn't hurt the industry's ability to survive," said Will French, president of the LA Film & Entertainment Association.

Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, said he expected all bills to pass the committee, but lawmakers still have ways to go to solve the state's budget issues.

As a result of last week's budget agreement, the $615 million in new money would go nearly entirely to higher education, putting healthcare $200 million short of being fully-funded.

The budget plan goes before the full House on Thursday while the eleven tax bills passing committee Monday go to another Senate committee no earlier than next week.

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