Tue April 2, 2013
Robideaux Covers Tax, Budget Reform
The lawmaker sponsoring Governor Bobby Jindal’s tax reform package is saying the administration has learned from his mistakes last session.
After the blow back from the abbreviated debate on education reform in 2012, Representative Joel Robideaux said discussions on the Governor's initiatives got underway sooner this year. “Some may say that wasn’t a good way to go," Robideaux told the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, "because we’ve taken two months of opposition, but from a legislative standpoint, I think it’s great because we’ve had two months of debate we wouldn’t have otherwise been afforded.”
Jindal first suggested swapping the income tax for sales taxes in January. The package wasn’t filed until the last day of pre-filing. It’s made up of nine linked bills. That’s unlike last year’s teacher tenure act, which was overturned in district court because too many items were packed into a single bill. Jindal’s pension plan was overturned because lawmakers disregarded the details contributed by a legislative accounting office. To avoid that, this year, Robideaux says the legislature’s fiscal analysis, rather than the administration’s accounting firm, will have the final word on tax reform. Budget ReformRobideaux also sits on the Joint Committee on the Budget. The legislature will also consider proposals to revamp the way the state builds the budget. The House Appropriations committee discusses the budget for higher education later this week, which relies in part on one-time funding. But some of the funding has yet to materialize; it's contingent on the sale of state property and a settlement in a tobacco case. To guarantee higher education’s funds in the future some lawmakers want to change the way the state constructs its budget. Robideaux said there’s a bill that would restrict lawmakers from using one-time funds. Another would split the budget into two bills: one for expenditures that are constitutionally protected, and another for expenses that will have to be prioritized. Robideaux says one-time funds have been used routinely to shore up the budget since he joined the legislature in 2004, but this time it’s different. “It’s one thing to rely on non-recurring one-time money to fill a hole," Robideaux said, "it’s another to rely on money that you’re anticipating to come about, that doesn’t even exist."