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|Walsworth, Riser oppose income tax deduction bill|
State Sens. Mike Walsworth and Neil Riser say they will vote against legislation that would retroactively raise taxes for Louisianians who file itemized state income returns while Sen. Bob Kostelka doubts the legislation will ever be brought up for a vote in the Senate.
The legislation in question is Senate Bill 335 by Sen. Lydia Jackson of Shreveport. The bill would maintain excess itemized deductions at the 2008 level of 65 percent for the next four years. The deductions include mortgage interest expenses, medical expenses and charitable contributions.
Under legislation approved by state lawmakers last year, state income tax filers would be allowed to claim a 100 percent deduction for every penny spent on excess itemized deductions.
If Jackson's bill became law, it would be effective Jan. 1, 2009, meaning it would take away deductions state income tax filers could claim on their 2009 income tax returns.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says he would veto Jackson's bill if the Legislature approved it.
"I will vote no on it (SB 335)," said Walsworth, R-West Monroe. "It is a tax increase, which is something I cannot support."
"Besides, the governor has said he would veto it if we approved it," Walsworth said. "So, it's a moot issue because the Senate isn't going to override the governor's veto."
Jackson's legislation is intended to generate more than $100 million. She says the money would be used to offset proposed budgets for higher education. Higher education is staring at a $219 million budget cut for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins July.
Late last week, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved Jackson's bill unanimously, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.
Riser is a member of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, but he was absent when the committee voted on Jackson's bill.
Riser described Jackson's legislation as "dead on arrival" when the Senate considers it, which could occur next week.
"I will vote no when the bill reaches the floor," said Riser, R-Columbia. "It's not going anywhere anyway because the governor will veto it."
State Sen. Bob Kostelka is a member of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, too. He did not object when Jackson's bill was ordered moved to the full Senate.
"We did not know where the governor stood on it when we heard it in committee," said Kostelka, R-Monroe.
"I did not see anything wrong with sending the bill to the Senate for a vote," Kostelka explained. "I don't think a handful of senators should decide whether the Senate gets an opportunity to debate an issue and vote on it.
"It really doesn't matter now because the governor has said he will veto the bill. Quite frankly, I don't think we'll ever see the bill brought up for discussion in the Senate because the governor says he'll veto it and there's no way the House would pass it if the Senate passed it."
"It's a moot issue as far as I'm concerned," he added.