GOP lawmakers voted for $1 billion in taxes during special session, but state party blames Gov. Edwards in fundraising appeal _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- On the first day of the regular legislative session, Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, pauses after talking about previous special session and Louisiana's financial difficulties, while addressing the joint session at 1:00 on the State of the State.

The state Republican Party is outraged that “they” passed $1 billion in taxes during the final eight minutes of the just-completed special session.

The party — blaming Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat — is asking party members to “join the fight” and make a $5 donation to the party.

Sent Monday, the fundraising email is brief — perhaps too brief to mention that one of the two major tax bills raising the $1 billion was sponsored by a Republican and that a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate voted for both measures.

One bill is raising the state sales tax by 1 cent for 27 months as of April 1, while the other is ending several dozen exemptions on sales taxes, also for 27 months.

“The state party opposes tax increases,” Jason Doré, the party’s executive director, said Wednesday when asked about the email. “That’s part of our national platform.”

The Republican-led Legislature approved both tax bills, and Edwards signed them into law.

So what about the role of the Republicans in passing the bills?

“It’s all on John Bel Edwards,” Doré said.

To be sure, Edwards pushed for the 1-cent sales tax increase. House Bill 62 was sponsored by state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe.

In the House, Republicans voted for the extra penny by a 44-16 margin. In the Senate: 20-5.

The measure ending the sales tax exemptions, House Bill 61, was not by a member of the governor’s legislative team. The sponsor was state Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe.

“I have no comment on that,” Morris replied when asked about the fundraising email.

In the House, Republicans voted for his bill by 33-27. In the Senate: 15-10.

State Rep. Lance Harris, of Alexandria, leads the House Republican delegation and voted for both of the bills.

“I hope they raise a whole lot of money,” Harris said after looking at the email.

Doré called the response “very positive.”

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