The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee took testimony Wednesday on a different idea from Republican Senator Rick Ward, making businesses choose which tax credits to give up.
"For that small group of businesses out there that receive the Industrial Tax Exemption along with the Inventory Tax Credit," explains Ward, "this bill [SB 10] seeks to really allow them to take one or the other.”
Jim Patterson, with Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, objected, saying “our perception is that the companies would not be here but for the fact that we have this incentive to bring them here.”
Alexandria Democrat Jay Luneau wasn’t buying it.
“We’re broke, sir. We can’t afford to pay for more businesses to come to this state. We do not have the money to do it,” he says.
Business interest also objected to giving up inventory tax rebates. Norco Democrat Gary Smith pointed out they’re obligated to pay the local tax.
“You’re paying what you owe to them constitutionally. And we as a state are gracious enough to give you a grant back,” he explains.
LABI President Stephen Waguespack says after all the tax hikes placed on business this year, now is not the time to add more.
“I’m not trying to say that you’re awash with cash," says Waguespack, "but I also don’t think it’s fair to say that you don’t have sufficient dollars to make some tough decisions in a down economy.”
Committee Chair JP Morrell clarifies the bill is not a tax, but a spending cut for the state.
The committee voted 7 to 4 to send the bill to the Senate Floor. New Orleans Democrat Troy Carter had the last word.
“We’re not anti-business. The people you represent," he says, "they’re our constituents too. So it’s not always an 'either,or' proposition. Sometimes it’s just the best we can do.”