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|House members send message|
It was encouraging to learn that some 55 members of the state House of Representatives signed a letter last week which expressed their opposition to Senate Bill 335 by Sen. Lydia Jackson of Shreveport.
Jackson's legislation would take away a tax cut state income tax filers were scheduled to receive as of Jan. 1 of this year, affecting state income taxes individuals will pay in May 2010. More specific, SB 335 would maintain excess itemized deductions at the 2008 level of 65 percent for the next four years. The deductions include mortgage interest expenses, medical expenses and charitable contributions.
Under legislation approved by state lawmakers last year, tax filers would be allowed to claim a 100 percent deduction for every penny spent on the aforementioned expenses and the like, beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
Roughly two weeks ago, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee unanimously approved Jackson's SB 335. At least one member of the committee, Sen. Bob Kostelka of Monroe, said the committee sent Jackson's bill to the full Senate for consideration because Gov. Bobby Jindal did not make his position clear on the bill before the committee heard it.
So much for legislative independence.
That's neither here nor there, though.
What is relevant is Jackson's claim that SB 335 would generate more than $100 million. She says the money would come in handy since higher education is staring at a $219 million budget cut heading into the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The proposed budget cuts for higher education arose because the state must trim its expenditures by more than $1.3 billion in the new fiscal year.
Accordingly, it was not surprising to witness the higher education community fall all over itself in support of Jackson's bill, exhibiting its disrespect for the people who foot the bill for higher education in the first place -- the taxpayers.
While we appreciate Jackson's concern for higher education and Louisiana in general, she should have come clean long ago and acknowledged that SB 335 says absolutely nothing about using monies generated by her tax-hike bill to offset proposed budget cuts for state colleges and universities. Instead, we suppose we are expected to take her word on it.
Where have we heard that before?
Were we not told many years ago that revenues generated by the Lottery would specifically be spent on education in Louisiana?
Did we not discover years later that revenues generated by the Lottery were not being spent on education?
Again, that's neither here nor there.
What's important at this point is a majority of the members of the House went on the record stating their opposition to Jackson's SB 335.
Coupled with Jindal's pledge to veto Jackson's bill if the Legislature approved it, we suspect SB 335 is dead.
It should be.
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