Jindal proposes consolidating state’s computer maintenance
Gov. Bobby Jindal
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to consolidate computer maintenance work across most state agencies into one office is nearing final legislative passage, winning support Monday from the House Appropriations Committee.
The budget assumes $24.7 million in savings from the consolidation effort. The savings would come from merging software licenses, hardware maintenance agreements and contract services, from increased bulk purchasing of computer products and from cutting vacant jobs.
The bill (Senate Bill 481) by Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, would create a new Office of Technology Services in the 2014-15 fiscal year under the oversight of Jindal’s Division of Administration, with more than 800 state employees.
The new office would be budgeted at $280 million, charging agencies various rates for services to cover its costs.
Higher education and elected officials are excluded from the consolidation effort.
Already approved by the Senate, the bill moves next to the full House for debate. It was approved without objection Monday by the House committee.
An upcoming tax amnesty program to let people and businesses pay back-owed taxes with reduced penalties would be more generous than currently planned, under a bill that received House support Monday in a 92-1 vote.
The measure (House Bill 663) by Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, is designed to help the state bring in $100 million in the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year, money that already is included for spending in next year’s budget.
Last year, lawmakers created a three-phase tax amnesty program, with less generous incentives as each year passed. The second phase of the program, planned for late 2014, would waive 15 percent of penalties and no interest for people paying their delinquent taxes. Robideaux’s bill would change that to waive 67 percent of penalties and 33 percent of interest.
Tax credits, which were used to pay off some back-owed business taxes in the first phase of the program, would be prohibited as payment in the next phases.
The House added language proposed by Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, that would ban tax amnesty programs after the three-phase period ends in 2015, to address concerns that some taxpayers won’t pay their taxes on time, awaiting the next amnesty.
Despite the addition, Broadwater still voted against the bill, which heads next to the Senate for debate.
The House killed a measure to shorten the length of some legislative sessions and curb the number of bills lawmakers could file.
Opponents said Monday that the proposed constitutional amendment (House Bill 373) would hurt democracy.
Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, sponsor of the bill, argued it would help lawmakers work more efficiently. He said the state’s passage rate for bills is far lower than other states.
The proposal would have made all legislative sessions 45 days long in a 60 calendar-day period. Currently, sessions on even-numbered years are 60 days in an 85 calendar-day period.
It would also have limited lawmakers to filing no more than 10 bills that are not local in even-numbered years.
The bill received only 36 votes of support Monday in the House, but it needed 70 votes to pass.
In other legislative action:
—Public school students in Louisiana who show proficiency in a language other than English may be able to get a state “Seal of Biliteracy” on their diplomas, under a bill that received final passage Monday with a unanimous House vote. The bill (House Bill 1016) by Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, encourages local school districts to participate in the program, but doesn’t require it. The measure goes to the governor’s desk.