As the 2015 regular session lumbers closer towards its close, at first glance a great collision seems in the offing. In order to manufacture a balanced budget as required constitutionally, Jindal has said he will accept no tax increases without offsets of these, while the Legislature has insisted on building a budget dependent upon several such hikes that don’t appear to have enough commensurate tax cuts elsewhere. Thus, it looks as if the grand bargain would not materialize and one faction would have to overpower politically the other in order to stave off large spending reductions that no one, for no well-defined reason, seems to want.
But taking another glance, perhaps maybe things aren’t so conflicted. It turns out that the Jindal Administration generously defines, and appropriately as it imposed the condition in the first place, the idea of an “offset” as a multi-year concept. Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield has stated that the period in question constitutes not a single year, but five years. Thus, a measure that raises taxes immediately, such as HCR 8 that would suspend into Aug., 2016 business utility sales tax exemptions partially to the tune of $103 million in additional revenue, could be offset and then some by the impact of HB 828, which erases the corporate franchise tax over five years that by then would grow to a forecast $912.5 million, even though the next year’s forgone revenue totals only $36.5 million.