Budget negotiations appear to have stalled following Wednesday’s meeting of House Ways and Means, when a republican-supported plan to raise revenue failed to make it out of committee.
Rep. Stephen Dwight's (R-Lake Charles) bill would have raised money by holding on to part of the temporary increase in sales tax, bringing the state sales tax to 4.25 percent. It would also change which industries get a break on that tax and how much. Even Dwight wasn't very excited about it.
"This is not a bill that I necessarily wanted to bring, but I felt like I needed to bring, because I think this is an option for this state going forward that fills some of that fiscal cliff that we're facing," he explained.
The GOP-led House has said any money raised in this special session has to come with spending reforms. So Rep. Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) attached the bill to others that address Medicaid work requirements, the state's spending limit and a transparency website, Louisiana Checkbook — making it a package deal.
Rep. Dwight urged the committee to advance his bill to the House floor.
"I think this is the only option to go forward," he said.
But Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), says that's not the case.
"We have other bills that can help us get to an amount that we’re all comfortable with. We need as many options as possible," said James.
He's willing to consider keeping a fraction of the increased sales tax. But it would have to be tied to other tax measures that don't adversely affect low-income populations, like reducing the amount of federal itemized deductions residents can claim on their state taxes.
"We need to have some equity there," he explained, "and until we have that equity, I just can’t support anything that’s out there right now that they're presenting."