Tax deal reached, passed by Louisiana House; See How Your Legislator Voted
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on Louisiana's special session on taxes (all times local):
The Louisiana House broke through its tax logjam, agreeing to renew part of an expiring sales tax to avoid deep cuts to colleges and state programs.
Lawmakers voted 74-24 Friday to renew 0.45 percent of a 1 percent sales tax that expires July 1. It needed 70 votes to pass. (How each legislator voted.)
The bill would keep the state sales tax rate at 4.45 percent through mid-2025.
A mix of Republicans and Democrats supported the measure, sending it to the Senate for consideration in a special session that must end Wednesday.
The deal aimed to bridge disagreements between Gov. John Bel Edwards's push for a 0.5 percent rate and House GOP leaders' push for a 0.4 percent rate.
The proposal would raise about $40 million less than needed to fully finance the upcoming budget.
Louisiana Senate leaders are proposing a last-ditch method of raising revenue to avoid deep cuts in the budget that takes hold in days.
With a 7-2 vote Friday, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs started advancing legislation that would delay expiration of a 1 percent sales tax that falls off the books July 1.
The proposal from Republican Senate President John Alario and Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Chairman J.P. Morrell would keep the sales tax in place for another year. The method to do that is a technical one, temporarily suspending the sales tax expiration.
Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, says it's not the favored approach. But senators worry that the House remains deadlocked on its sales tax bills.
There's disagreement about how many votes it would take to pass the resolution.
Lawmakers in the Louisiana House are having trouble bridging the same divides that left two previous special sessions this year without a tax deal.
As the House returns Friday for further negotiations, lawmakers are wondering if this third special session will end with the same inaction as the first.
Steep budget cuts across college campuses and state programs are near. They'll hit agencies and higher education in July if lawmakers don't agree to additional taxes.
Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras urged lawmakers Thursday night to continue tax talks, to try to break the stalemate. But he described his chamber at an "extreme deadlock."
At issue is how much of an expiring 1 percent sales tax to renew. Renewal takes a two-thirds vote, requiring a mix of Republican and Democratic votes.