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|Solons laud agreement on income tax cut|
State Sen. Bob Kostelka called an agreement to roll back state income tax rates to pre-2002 levels "historic."
Under terms of an agreement announced in Baton Rouge Wednesday, the House of Representatives will pass Senate Bill 87 without an amendment engineered by State Sen. Neil Gautreaux.
For Louisiana taxpayers, that means reduced rates starting in 2009.
At a news conference held Wednesday morning, Jindal said taxpayers had been calling for a repeal of the so-called Stelly tax increase for six years.
"Today, the leadership you see here is on track to do just that," said Jindal, referring to the cadre of legislators who joined him for the announcement.
That group included Senate President Joel Chaisson, Speaker of the House Jim Tucker, Rep. Hunter Greene, Sen. Rob Marionneaux and Sen. Buddy Shaw, who sponsored SB 87 in its original form.
"If the members of the House and Senate join us, this will be our sixth tax cut in four months," Jindal said.
State Rep. Frank Hoffmann said he looked forward to reducing the state income tax rates to their 2002 levels.
"It's what I've wanted to do the whole time," Hoffmann said.
Income tax rates were increased in 2002 under a plan by then state Sen. Vic Stelly. Under the 2002 plan, the state exempted food for consumption from a one-cent sales tax. At the same time, the Stelly plan increased the rate paid by many taxpayers by some two percent.
Shaw, R-Shreveport, proposed rolling back income tax rates to pre-Stelly levels beginning in 2008.
However, a move by Gautreaux saw Shaw's proposal amended to eliminate all state income taxes over 10 years.
At the time, Gautreaux's move was seen as an effort to kill the Shaw bill.
With the deal announced Wednesday, SB 87 appeared poised to pass the House as it was originally written, though the committee amended Shaw's proposal to become affective in 2009 to prevent a revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year.
Hoffmann said he did not expect the original version of SB 87 to find much opposition when the House takes up the matter later in the session.
"This is a commonsense thing," Hoffmann said. "It's going to return the taxes to the people."
Kostelka said the circumstances surrounding Jindal's news conference were extraordinary.
"This is the first time I've seen a press conference before the bill was actually passed," Kostelka said. "But if that's what it takes, we still get it done."