- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Plans to start moving the pieces of a budget-balancing package of tax changes this week got derailed Monday.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee was scheduled to consider a bill by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, that would repeal a local property tax on inventory. The repeal would save the state an estimated $500 million a year on a tax credit tied to that inventory tax.

But at the last minute, Adley pulled the bill (Senate Bill 85) from consideration.

He said there were questions about the financial analysis, which showed no savings from the repeal in the upcoming budget year. He also said questions were raised about possible implications on education financing.

“I don’t want to move forward unless I’ve got accurate numbers,” Adley said.

No follow-up hearing date from the Senate committee has been set, and Adley’s proposal faces strong resistance from parishes and municipalities that rely on the inventory tax revenue to pay their bills.

With that proposal temporarily shelved, the House Ways and Means Committee then scrapped plans to hear legislation Tuesday that would scale back tax break programs and raise the cigarette tax.

Ways and Means Chairman Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, said lawmakers on his committee don’t want to vote on “revenue-raisers” without the Senate advancing the inventory tax piece of the legislative package.

Lawmakers are trying to find a way to raise new dollars to help close a $1.6 billion budget gap in next year’s budget.

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Legislation aimed at limiting diversions of state gasoline tax money away from road work started moving Monday in the state House.

Without objection, the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure (House Bill 208) by Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, that would place a cap on the dollars that can be moved from the gasoline tax trust fund to state police operations annually.

Under Landry’s bill, up to $40 million from the Transportation Trust Fund could be spent on state police in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1. A year later, that would drop to $25 million. Every year after that, it would be limited to $10 million annually.

Lawmakers have grown concerned about the large sums of gasoline tax money paying for items other than transportation projects. Since 2011, $241 million has been steered to state police operations, even as the state has a $12 billion backlog of needed road and bridge repairs and improvements.

Landry’s proposal moves next to the full House for debate.

The budget proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal for next year would spend $25 million more in trust fund money for the state police than is allowed under the bill. Lawmakers would have to rework that part of the budget if Landry’s proposal wins final passage.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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