Standoff between state House, Senate impeding progress
BATON ROUGE - Tuesday at the capitol, discussions over raising sin taxes stalled again, but lawmakers did make a last minute decision to approve a one cent sales tax increase.
For a 3rd consecutive day, Louisiana's House of Representatives refused to take an action on two tax increases - cigarettes and alcohol. Republican members want the senate to agree to their demands and cut government.
Leaders in the senate say cuts go too far.
"They should not be surprised the senate is not happy with their cuts," Senate president John Alario (R-West Wego) told News 2's Mark Armstrong. "They've basically eliminated the Department of Education, they've curtailed State Police and they've cut the National Guard so they could not respond to a tornado in our state."
The Senate will make its decision Thursday, then the house will likely vote on taxes.
The Senate did make progress by passing a one-cent increase to the state sales tax. It's slightly different than the bill that left the house last week. Instead of an 18-month sunset, the Senate wants it to stay in effect for 5 years.
As it is now, the tax will go away if oil prices return to normal levels or if lawmakers agree to a substitute tax. The amended sales tax now goes back to the House for their approval.
The feud over tax hikes and spending cuts is coming down to the wire. Lawmakers only have until next Wednesday to get on the same page to patch the state's budget crisis.
Wednesday morning, the Senate will hold hearings to discuss what proposed government cuts will mean for everyday citizens.