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Melinda Deslatte / The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gov. Bobby Jindal's leader on tax issues indicated Tuesday that the governor is no longer seeking a dollar-for-dollar swap in repealing Louisiana's income tax, after ditching his own unpopular swap proposal.

If lawmakers agree to repeal the tax without offsetting the lost revenue, that could require continuing cuts across state programs and services annually to shrink government spending to a permanently lower tax base.

Tim Barfield, executive counsel for the Department of Revenue, suggested to a Senate committee that now that Jindal is supporting a tax phase-out, the loss of the revenue doesn't have to be entirely offset.

The issue came up under questioning from Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton. Adley said he assumed that even though Jindal shelved his own proposal, the governor would still want a replacement for the lost income tax revenue to keep the entire tax change 'revenue neutral.'

'I think that would be the ultimate desire,' Barfield replied. 'But I think if you look at a long-term phase-out, you have a lot more leeway.'

Jindal abandoned his tax package that would have immediately eliminated state income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes on a new array of services because the proposal was widely criticized and appeared unlikely to pass.

The Republican governor instead is asking lawmakers to phase-out the income tax over several years, but he's provided no parameters for what he wants that to include.

Lawmakers and others are questioning how -- and if -- they'll offset the loss of $3 billion in tax revenue if they agree to repeal income taxes. That is becoming the new central tax debate of the two-month legislative session.

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