Allain, Jones react to plan

Local legislators reacted to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s updated proposed tax plan that would include a substantial increase in the state’s sales tax, $1.4 billion in new taxes on services and eliminating the state income tax.

State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, said because Jindal’s plan is not yet in the form of a bill, the specifics of what is going to change are unknown.

One of the things Jindal’s plan stated is that there will be 191 tax exemptions that will disappear, but does not designate who those people or businesses will be, Jones said.

State Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, said Jindal has not presented enough details of the plan for him to know whether the tax plan is good and echoed Jones in that he needs to see a bill to make an informed decision.

He needs to find out “who’s going to be taxed, where the burden is going to be shifted to” and “are the poor going to be protected,” Allain said. “We actually need to see the bill and the details of it. … I look forward to looking at it and working with it,” Allain said. “But, right now, I don’t have enough details to know.”

Jindal’s plan outlined certain areas where taxes would be raised.

The proposed plan would eliminate some of the tax exemptions used by the oil and gas industry.

“Any removal of exemptions on the oil and gas industry, I’m absolutely opposed to,” Jones said. “This industry produces too many jobs for our area for us to trade that off.”

Drilling companies have gotten tax incentives to drill experimental wells at deep levels, including in St. Mary Parish, Jones said. “Without that, I’m not sure they would’ve drilled them. … Is he going to slow down new technology and new technological advances to make it more difficult to get to oil and gas?”

Legislators want to know how the proposed tax plan would affect the poor in Louisiana.

“Are we changing the tax system to where we’re going to smash the middle class?” Jones asked.

Jones said the first tax plan that Jindal came out with was significantly different than the one he presented Thursday.

“Since the first time we met, he’s created some new exemptions for some folks, and I don’t know where he’s going to get the money to offset that,” Jones said.

The reality that the Legislature is just days away from going into session, and the fact that the Jindal administration has a plan so comprehensive, Jones said, is “still making it up as they go” concerns him.

So far, Jindal’s tax plan does not appear to have enough tax increases to offset what he wants to cut, Jones said.

“Again, we’re speculating because we don’t have the exact facts that will have to be defined in the bill.”

Jones said Jindal was going to take away the inventory tax that local governments within the state collect, and “that’s a $400 million animal,” he said. “How are you going to make up $400 million?”

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