Gov. Edwards holds news conference to discuss end of special session

The gavel has dropped on the special session to balance this year’s state budget. Lawmakers took their final votes with time ticking off the clock.

The centerpiece of the plan to plug a $900 million hole in the budget for this fiscal year, ending June 30, was higher sales taxes.

Lawmakers approved an extra one penny on the dollar tax. They also cleaned all five pennies of state sales tax of most of the tax exemptions, but food and drugs are still exempt. Lawmakers also raised taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, rental cars and short term rentals.

Also approved was a long list of new cuts.

“We have a lot of work to do. We are about $30 million short for the current fiscal year,” said Governor Edwards in an address following the session. “We are about $800 million short for next year. It’s going to be hard to get there.”

WHAT PASSED:

-Boost the cigarette tax from 86 cents per pack to $1.08, starting April 1. Revenue raised: $11 million for this year’s budget and $46 million annually. House Bill 14.

-Increase the rates charged on liquor, wine and beer, starting April 1. Revenue raised: $4.7 million for this year’s budget and $19.2 million annually. House Bill 27.

-Charge a state sales tax on hotel rooms booked through short-term rental sites like Airbnb. Revenue raised: Uncertain. House Bill 59.

-Reinstate a 2.5 percent state car rental tax that expired four years ago, starting April 1. Revenue raised: $800,000 for this year’s budget and $5 million for the state annually. House Bill 39.

-Renew the state telecommunications tax that expires April 1. Revenue raised: $600,000 in state general fund for this year’s budget and $2.2 million annually. House Bill 72.

-Provide a method for collecting state sales tax from online retailers. Revenue raised: Uncertain. House Bill 30.

-Charge corporate franchise tax on more businesses, starting Jan. 1, 2017. Revenue raised: $10 million in the 2016-17 budget year, $89 million in 2017-18 and $94 million after that. House Bill 19.

-Cap the amount a vendor can receive as compensation for timely filing and payment of state sales taxes, starting April 1. Revenue raised: $1.6 million for this year’s budget and $6.4 million annually. House Bill 43.

-Reduce the discount rate a business receives for timely filing and payment of state alcohol taxes, starting April 1. Revenue raised: $94,000 for this year’s budget and $375,000 annually. House Bill 28.

-Reduce the discount rate for tobacco dealers for expenses related to tax collection, starting April 1. Revenue raised: $275,000 in state general fund for this year’s budget and $1.1 million for state general fund annually. House Bill 18.

-Lessen a tax break given to insurance companies. Revenue raised: $8 million in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 budget years. House Bill 87.

WHAT’S PENDING:

-Increase Louisiana’s 4-cent sales tax by another penny on every dollar spent, starting April 1, without many of the exemptions allowed on the other four pennies of the tax. Revenue raised: $215 million for this year’s budget and $883 million annually. House Bill 62.

-Lessen state sales tax exemptions, including on business utilities and on the purchase of manufacturing equipment. Revenue raised: About $80 million for this year’s budget and about $400 million annually. House Bill 61.

-Allow sales taxes to be charged at certain events at Louisiana domed stadiums and baseball facilities starting April 1, like music concerts, not for athletic events. Revenue raised: Uncertain. Senate Bill 22.

-Change what businesses can deduct from their income for tax purposes. Revenue raised: Uncertain. House Bill 55.

WHAT FAILED:

-Reduce the tax credit businesses can receive from the state for paying local property taxes on their inventory. Revenue raised: About $50 million annually. House Bill 46.

Revenue estimates source: Legislative Fiscal Office.

The regular session begins Monday, March 14, 2016.

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