Earlier this week, the House Ways and Means Committee advanced a pair of bills by state Rep. Karen St. Germain, HB 778 that would hike the state sales tax one cent for 10 years, and HB 777 that would raise permanently the gasoline tax from 20 to 30 cents a gallon. The former barely drew a peep and passed out without objection, while the other got more discussion – more about specific projects than anything else – and was forwarded on a 7-3 vote. Both would be dedicated to infrastructure.
The massive silence about the merits of the sales tax increase in particular stands in sharp relief to events of a couple of years ago, when Jindal proposed a tax swap plan that basically would have eliminated income taxes with raising the sales tax 2.25 percent, knocking out many exemptions, and expanding that taxation to many services. The plan was revenue neutral at the start but its simplification aspects and making sales taxation broader while zeroing out income taxation promised to encourage economic growth that in the future would have made it revenue positive.