Governor Jindal’s opening address to the legislature didn’t mention healthcare, higher education, or the budget in general. Instead, he flabbergasted lawmakers and media with a thirteen-minute long speech ditching his plan to raise sales tax revenue to replace the income tax. But he didn’t abandon the initiative altogether.
“I know that several of you have already filed bills to phase-out the income tax," Jindal said. "What I’m here to tell you is this: even as we park our bill, I call on you. Let’s work together. Let’s pass a bill this session to get rid of the income tax once and for all in the state of Louisiana.”
The plan to raise sales tax ran into opposition across the gamut – from lobbyists for big business to advocates for low income taxpayers. Policy analysts criticized the administration for misrepresenting the job growth in states without income tax – like Texas.
Representative John Bel Edwards, House Minority leader, said that criticism still stands. “There are many states without income tax that haven’t been producing jobs. Of course, Texas has a lot of other reasons they’re producing," Edwards said. "But, you know, we talk about Texas when we want to, we don’t talk about the high property tax they have in lieu of the income tax.”
Edwards is worried that higher education and healthcare will see further cuts if there’s no plan to raise revenue or slim government elsewhere.
In Jindal’s address, he made no mention of his previous requirement that the changes be revenue neutral.