Some Senators Puzzled by Tax Amnesty Solution

May 17, 2013

In the Finance committee Thursday Senators questioned the way the House filled the hole it dug in the proposed budget for next year. The House took out one-time money, from selling state property, court settlements, and dedicated funds, and put in a tax amnesty program.

The Legislative Fiscal Office usually considers tax amnesty revenues to be one-time money too.

Senator Gregory Tarver wanted clarification, “So the House took out one-time money that they declared was one-time money, and put in two hundred million dollars, and it’s one-time monies?”

Greg Albrecht, Chief Economist in the Legislative Fiscal Office, answered that because the program spans two years the program is essentially a recurring one-time fund.

Rep. Jim Fannin, who shepherded the budget through the House, now thinks the budget is no longer balanced.

Like hitchhikers on a bus, he said, representatives had derailed the budget by adding spending for things like a state trooper academy, an Atchafalaya Basin protection program, and restored funding for higher education.

“Before it got to its final vote, there was a lot of decision that folks needed to stop and eat something along the way," Fannin said, "and the folks that had been on the bus since the beginning knew they were going to have to order a salad or eat a little light because there’s not a lot of money for those heavy entrees.”

The committee will meet again at the end of next week to amend the bill and send it to the floor of the Senate.