BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. Bobby Jindal is scrapping his controversial tax swap plan, announcing that to state lawmakers as the annual legislative session got underway Monday afternoon.
It was a moment of public humility for Jindal, telling lawmakers he would be parking the tax plan he spent so much time in recent weeks trying to sell across the state.
Rather than risk defeat on a plan that had little or no chance of passing, Jindal is now urging lawmakers to come up with their own plan to do away with a state income tax.
Jindal may have known his controversial tax swap plan wasn’t very popular with lawmakers when he entered the House chamber only to have the clapping stop halfway down the aisle.
Soon after arriving at the podium, Jindal put aside his scripted speech and got personal with members of the House and Senate.
“It’s been said by me – my mom is here and she can tell you I’ve been hearing this my entire life – that I speak too quickly, that I move too quickly,” Jindal said. “Some of you have told me that.
Jindal then told lawmakers that, while he still believes eliminating the state income tax over time is the best course of action to create jobs and bring loved ones home, his plan to swamp income tax for higher sales taxes did not have the support of the people.
“Even as we park our plan, I call you – let’s work together, let’s pass a bill this session,” Jindal said. “Let’s get rid of the income tax once and for all in the state of Louisiana.”
Lawmakers said the governor did the right think.
“It’s good that he’s recognized that people are not with him and the legislature, we’re certainly not with him,” Sen. Karen Carte/D-New Orleans. “The package was DOA.”
Added, Rep. Walt Leger/D-New Orleans, “I think there is a lot of support in the legislature to continue to examine ways to reduce or eliminate the income tax. But I think it’s very clear that increasing the sales tax is not the method of choice from the legislator’s perspective.”
Senate President John Alario/R-Westwego said it’s not just about repealing a tax, however.
“How do you replace those revenues to take care of basic services of elementary and secondary education and higher education and health care in this state without bankrupting this state?” Alario said.
Several lawmakers have offered various proposals to gradually phase out the state income tax. Jindal, however, has not said which bill he supports.