Jindal voices concern about House tax reform effort

By By Jim Beam / American Press

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal threw cold water on a budget reform effort here Monday, calling it a secret plan to raise


Earlier, members of the House Ways and

Means Committee, during a five-hour hearing, moved some half-dozen bills

to the full

House that could be used to plug a $490 million hole in Jindal’s

proposed $24.7 billion budget. The committee voted to report

them unfavorably, keeping the measures alive for future debate.

The governor got legislators, businesses and other interests to attend an afternoon news conference to outline their concerns

about the House tax reform effort.

Jindal said the committee has denied the public a chance to be heard on the proposed budget reforms. The bills heard Monday

deal with tax propositions and tax exemptions.

The budget reform effort is being orchestrated by a group of conservative Republicans called the “Fiscal Hawks” and some members

of the Democratic Party and the Legislative Black Caucus.

The House Appropriations Committee last week stripped $490 million from House Bill 1, the budget spending plan, and wanted

to let the state Senate restore the funds. However, 71 members of the House said they wanted to make the budget changes.

Jindal said when the government takes more out of your pocket, that is raising taxes — anyway you size it up.

“We need to grow the private sector economy, not the government,” he said.

The governor said every economic indicator has the state in good position in per capita income, unemployment and industrial


Jindal said he called on the

Legislature to open up the process. Some opposed the measures heard in

the Ways and Means Committee,

but the governor said the public hasn’t had enough time to react.

Dan Borne with the Louisiana Chemical Association, said 65 corporations in the state are operating 100 industrial plants.

“We are on the cusp of a true renaissance in the state,” Borne said. He added that expanding corporations made those decisions

based on business incentives that were already in place and they shouldn’t be changed.

State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Metairie, said increased taxes target businesses and that affects jobs.

Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, said companies depend on certainty. He mentioned

Boise’s plan to spend $111 million in DeRidder to update paper making machinery. He said the company could still pull back

on those plans.

Rep. Gordon Dove, R-Houma, said tax changes could be critical for companies locating deep water wells.

Others who complained about the tax reform effort included the American Advertising Federation; Stephen Moret, secretary of

the state Department of Economic Development; and Tim Barfield, executive counsel for the state Department of Revenue.

Moret said higher taxes will hurt the state’s business image after Louisiana has made record progress in economic development.

Barfield said Gov. Jindal’s tax reform plan that was shelved early in the session gave stakeholders and legislators time to

respond to what was being proposed. And he said the goal was to eliminate individual and incorporate income taxes.

“We don’t even know what’s being discussed,” he said of the House reform coalition. “We have to know how everyone will be


Jindal said he planned to give the House time to formulate a reform plan, but “the largest tax increase in decades” caused

him to change his plans.

“Even members of the committee don’t know what the bills do,” the governor said.

The plan was rushed, is secretive and “the wrong way for the Legislature to do its business.”

“They can hide behind whatever they want, but this is a tax increase,” Jindal said.