Late Wednesday night, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee advanced two identical sales tax measures — one sponsored by House GOP Caucus Chair Lance Harris and another by Democratic House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger — that seek to raise about $640 million toward the fiscal cliff — much more than Harris had in his House-passed tax bill.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a group that wields significant sway in the state Capitol, called the effort a "clear and unfortunate signal to workers across Louisiana" and a "crushing blow (to) manufacturing." "Employers and workers have always been more than willing to do their part to support statewide priorities like TOPS and hospitals, but they also need a partner in the Capitol to recognize their contributions to our economy and way of life," LABI president Stephen Waguespack said in a late night statement. "We desperately urge the Capitol to focus more on good policy, substance and civility in these last few days of session and less on blame-game politics."
Democrats, meanwhile, rallied around the Senate panel, praising it for pushing for more revenue and providing another measure in the special session that's viable. "(Way to go) Rev & Fisc Team," Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk tweeted after the vote.
The bill is still likely to shift forms as the special session rolls on and it advances to the process, so be sure to read our story below about another option and what it all means.
Of note: If everything collapses ahead of the Monday mandatory end to the special session, Gov. John Bel Edwards has not yet issued a call for another special session and a call requires seven-day's notice. Sooo... If things don't wrap up Monday evening, lawmakers will have a break before they return for the third special session of the year.