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Democrat delivers blow to Gov Edwards tax plan

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BATON ROUGE - The Democratic chairman of the House tax committee sided with his Republican colleagues to kill one of the main money-raising tax bills sought by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Ways and Means Chairman Neil Abramson cast the tie-breaking vote Wednesday to stall the Democratic governor's proposal to lessen an income tax break given to upper-income earners. The committee voted 10-9 against the bill.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Rob Shadoin would have raised $117 million to fill gaps in next year's budget by cutting tax breaks allowed for taxpayers who itemize on their individual income tax returns.

The change would return Louisiana to where the tax break was in 2007. Shadoin said 74 percent of individual income taxpayers wouldn't be affected.

Opponents say they couldn't support further taxes on their constituents.

VOTING AGAINST THE BILL (10): Reps. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, chairman; Jim Morris, R-Oil City, vice chairman; Paul Davis, R-Baton Rouge; Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice; Stephanie Hilferty, R-Metairie; Dodie Horton, R-Haughton; Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge; Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge; Jay Morris, R-Monroe; and Tom Willmott, R-Kenner.

VOTING FOR THE BILL (9): Reps. Joe Bouie, D-New Orleans; Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond; Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles; Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans; Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; Ted James, D-Baton Rouge; Robert Johnson, D-Marksville; Julie Stokes, R-Kenner; and Major Thibaut, D-New Roads.

Edwards released a statement on the vote Wednesday night:

“Given the $600 million deficit, when you vote against additional revenue, you are voting to cut TOPS, higher education, K-12 education, and life-saving health care services including our safety-net hospitals," Edwards said. "Putting politics over people got us into this mess. While some are insistent that we continue down that path, I am not. As I have said from day one, I am fully committed to funding TOPS, higher education, K-12 education, and essential health care services, and I presented a plan to do just that. But simple math does not allow us to do so without additional revenue.”


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