GOP House Caucus Chairman Lance Harris' tax bill that raises 366-million dollars of the 648-million dollar budget shortfall passed the House after a weekend of deliberations that got the legislation 76 votes, 6 more than it needed to make it to Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs. Harris, who Friday said this tax bill is designed to cut government, celebrated the passage.
“In critical times I tell myself and my staff at home, now and it’s gone, this is the opportunity.”
The bill renews a third of the expiring penny sales tax, and eliminates some sales tax breaks. Harris says that would require 126-million dollars in budget cuts, but Governor Edwards administration says the cuts would be much closer to 300-million.
Harris says over the weekend he heard from a lot of angry constituents who were concerned about the effects of the tax bill. The Alexandria Republican says that some of those responses gave him a second wind.
“I saw me being referred to as some very interesting names over the weekend and I hate to tell my friends that are printing those things that it actually invigorates me so keep it up.”
On Friday Harris said the reduction in government spending was necessary due to a lagging state economy. Harris says the bill was a reflection of his values.
“Don’t think for a minute that this is about what is polling well or parroting the views of constituents.”
The Governor’s office says Edwards has not decided whether or not he would veto the any budget that included those cuts if it made it to his desk.
While the Senate will now face the tax bill that’s on its way to the upper chamber, The Governor’s office is raising concerns that with a June 4th deadline for the special session rapidly approaching, that no budget bill has yet been filed. Republicans have blamed this on Edwards’ budget veto in the regular session, but the governor says there’s no reason why that is preventing the legislature from bringing a budget again in the special session.
In response Republican Representative Cameron Henry attempted an override of the Governor’s veto of House Bill One from the regular session. After a contentious debate, the move failed 52-48. A veto override vote can be only be attempted one more time.