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|Riser: Higher ed tax bill 'dead on arrival'|
Gov. Bobby Jindal says he will veto legislation a Senate committee approved Thursday that would freeze tax relief to generate more than $100 million to offset budget cuts for higher education.
Senate Bill 335 by Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, would maintain excess itemized deductions at the 2008 level of 65 percent for the next four years. It was scheduled to increase to 100 percent in 2009 for state income tax returns filed in 2010. Itemized deductions include money spent on mortgage interest, medical expenses and charitable contributions. The Legislature agreed last year to raise the deduction limit to 100 percent as part of an effort to undo the Stelly Tax.
Jackson's bill was approved without dissent Thursday by the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee. It moves to the full Senate for consideration. It must be approved by the House of Representatives, too, for Jindal to have an opportunity to veto it.
Jackson says her measure would generate $118 million. According to Jackson, that would restore more than half of a proposed $219-million budget cut higher education for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"We have said all along that we would veto any legislation that delays tax relief for Louisianians," Jindal said in a prepared statement released to The Ouachita Citizen late Thursday.
"We share the Legislature's concerns that reductions too often fall to higher education and health care during lean budget years, and we will continue to work with them to find ways to protect these critical areas," Jindal said.
State Sen. Neil Riser said Jackson's bill was "dead on arrival" in the Senate since Jindal says he would veto it.
"It does not have a chance" without the governor's support, Riser said.
For Riser, that's good news.
"I stand with the governor on it," said Riser, R-Columbia. "Had I been present in committee, I would have voted against it. I'll be voting against this bill when we hear it in the Senate."
Riser is a member of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. He was unable to attend the committee meeting Thursday, which was not held at the committee's regular meeting time.
Riser said he would have opposed the measure had he been there.
"I definitely would have voted against it," Riser said.
State Sen. Bob Kostelka also sits on the committee.
Kostelka agreed that any opposition from the Jindal administration would kill the bill before it got to the Senate floor.
"If the governor is against it, then it doesn't stand a chance," said Kostelka, R-Monroe.