Measures proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, Internet sales and car rentals will get their first hearing Wednesday before the tax-writing panel.
The committee will hear testimony from supporters and opponents without taking votes, said state Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“The committee members have asked to hear all the bills before making decisions on any of the bills,” Abramson said.
In all, the tax-writing committee has 22 bills on Wednesday’s agenda. Most of them deal with arcane areas of tax law.
The Edwards administration is pushing a variety of tax bills to close a budget shortfall of about $900 million by June 30, when the current fiscal year ends. The overall state general fund budget is $9.5 billion.
Abramson is hoping his committee on Thursday will hear bills that would eliminate or reduce a number of corporate and individual income tax breaks. Abramson hopes to have his committee hear sales tax bills on Friday.
The hold-up is whether the Legislative Fiscal Office can provide the official legislative estimate of how much each bill will raise. The Edwards administration has its own estimates but is deferring to the Fiscal Office.
House Bill 14 by state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, would raise the tobacco tax by 22 cents to $1.08 per pack of cigarettes. It would take effect April 1 and produce $46 million in new tax revenue next year.
House Bill 27 by Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches, would raise the tax on a can of beer from about three cents to four, on a glass of wine from about half a cent to three cents and on a shot of liquor from about three cents to four cents.
House Bill 39 by Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, would levy a 3 percent tax on car rentals. A previous tax on car rentals expired in 2012, and Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to renew it.
House Bill 30 by Leger would impose an 8 percent tax on Internet sales on companies that sell at least $50,000 of goods a year in Louisiana. Under current law, consumers and businesses are supposed self-report their taxes on Internet purchases. The Fiscal Office provided no estimate on how much it would raise.
The Fiscal Office needs more time to prepare dollar estimates for the Edwards administration’s corporate and income tax measures, Abramson said.
“The other ones take more time to get information from the Department of Revenue,” said Greg Albrecht, the Fiscal Office’s chief economist.
Follow Tyler Bridges on Twitter, @TegBridges. For more coverage of the legislative special session, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.