BATON ROUGE (AP) — A package of tax breaks sought by Gov. Bobby Jindal is near final legislative passage in the Louisiana House, but with more restrictions for their use than when the rebates were proposed by the governor.
Lawmakers in the Senate added several hurdles before the tax breaks could be used, with senators saying they want to make sure the tax breaks generate new jobs rather than just give money away to businesses that would have come to Louisiana anyway.
The bills by Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, would give the state's economic development chief limited ability to offer three new tax breaks to businesses that are considering whether to relocate or expand in Louisiana.
They include rebates for payroll, relocation costs and corporate income and franchise taxes.
Robideaux said the tax breaks could help Louisiana generate new jobs and compete with other states for business projects.
As passed by the House, the bills would have given Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret wide latitude to determine which firms get which tax cuts. But senators added restrictions that would give final approval of the tax rebate agreements to a joint House and Senate budget committee.
Senators also rewrote and gave lawmakers more review of the process for determining that the companies show they will generate more tax dollars for Louisiana than the breaks will cost the state in lost revenue.
Robideaux described the Senate changes as "amendments that strengthen" the measures.
"I think they're good. They help the bill out," he said of changes to one of the proposals Tuesday.
The proposals would give Moret's department the discretion to offer to specific companies:
• A payroll tax cut ranging from 6 percent to up to 15 percent for creating high-paying jobs with health care benefits. The measure awaits final legislative passage in the House.
• A 25 percent rebate over five years on relocation costs for companies that move their corporate headquarters to Louisiana. The businesses would need to pay salaries of twice the average pay given by private businesses in the parish or at least $60,000 annually. The measure awaits final legislative passage in the House.
• A different way to calculate state corporate income and franchise taxes, basing their payments on the amount of in-state sales taxes they generate, rather than on a mix of sales, property and payroll factors. This would lessen tax payments for those allowed to participate. The House gave final passage to the bill Tuesday.
The tax breaks will expire on July 1, 2017.Online: House Bills 729, 937 and 958 can be found at www.legis.la.gov