BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - While the Louisiana Senate advanced a series of bills Thursday that would generate close to $400 million next year, things remained stagnate in the House.
House lawmakers delayed a vote on a bill that would generate approximately $113 million during the fiscal year starting July 1.
The vote on HB 38 is expected to be so tight that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Malinda White, D-Bogalusa, wanted to wait until she knew there were enough people present in support. The bill is part of the governor's list of recommendations for the special session.
The delay Thursday is in part the result of partisan gridlock, particularly in the House, as lawmakers figure out how to address the state's estimated $600 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
"The dysfunction, discord, partisan politics, personal politics that are going on in here right now. I think it's just so divisive," said Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, who has concerns about the bill in its current form.
"You don't want any new revenue, you don't want any cuts. And to me that's an indefensible, irresponsible, and unreasonable position to take," said Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, who said he will vote for the bill when it comes to the floor.
HB 38 decreases how much of the excess federal itemized deduction individuals can claim on their personal income tax from 100 percent to 57.5 percent. It would impact those making more than $100,000 annually, or about a quarter of all taxpayers.
White said that paying a little more on the income tax has a worthwhile return on investment.
"For $600 more or less, you can keep TOPS funded that the kids can go to get educated, that you can keep colleges whole so they don't keep cutting departments," White said.
To get it out of the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill was heavily amended, making it act effectively as a loan for the state. It would only go into effect if the state is determined to be short on cash.
As it stands, the bill would lose its effect in 2018. At that time, those unable to claim all of their deductions in the preceding years could receive a reimbursement. That means the state could have to pay out more than $200 million.
"The amendment that's on it right now to me is about the most irresponsible legislation that we can put forth," Stokes said.
However, beyond the amendments, the debate over the bill is symptomatic of larger partisan gridlock. Those wanting to see the bill pass, including the governor, will have to overcome a large contingent of House Republicans who have no interest in voting 'yes' on more revenue bills.
"I've yet to see anybody step up and show spending cuts that we can make that are logical and right," White said.
The bill is scheduled to come up for a vote on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, lawmakers advanced a series of bills generating close to $400 million. More than $200 million of that comes from bills already approved by the House.
Another $139 million would come from a bill limiting how many tax credits and rebates industries can receive. SB 10, which advanced with a vote of 23-14, would force businesses to pick either the inventory tax credit or the industrial tax exemption. They could not receive both.
That bill now heads to the House, where it will likely receive some pushback.