House breaks stalemate, advances sales tax bill
BATON ROUGE (AP) - On a second try, the Louisiana House agreed to a more than $360 million sales tax proposal aimed at helping bridge budget gaps.
Lawmakers voted 76-26 for the tax bill, sponsored by House GOP leader Lance Harris. It required 70 votes.
Monday's vote broke through a House logjam on taxes that cratered a February special session. Bill support came from Republicans and Democrats, sending the measure to the Senate.
Harris' bill would renew one-third of an expiring 1 percent sales tax and eliminate or lessen some sales tax breaks - until 2023.
The bill raises less money than Gov. John Bel Edwards wants. But his administration and lawmakers who want a higher sales tax rate urged passage, to continue negotiations as the June 4 session deadline edges closer.
The new budget year begins July 1.
Louisiana lawmakers are meeting Memorial Day in their special session, trying to reach a tax deal to fill a budget gap.
The financial year begins July 1, with more than $1 billion in temporary taxes expiring. Gov. John Bel Edwards wants $648 million replaced, to avoid steep cuts to health, education and public safety programs.
The House, where most tax bills must start, will consider taxes Monday afternoon. A sales tax bill failed Friday.
Lawmakers are questioning whether they can strike a tax compromise and craft next year's budget before the session ends June 4.
Edwards vetoed a $28.5 billion budget he said cut too deeply, expecting lawmakers to write a larger spending plan during the special session. But Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry hasn't yet introduced a budget bill.