Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday there is no need for a statewide vote on his plan to raise the state sales tax and eliminate the income tax.
Jindal’s comment was in response to state Treasurer John N. Kennedy’s suggestion that the referendum be held.
Previous governors have sought approval from voters for their tax changes, and Jindal should as well, Kennedy said.
Jindal said the changes he has proposed do not require amending the state constitution, which would require a state election as well as legislative approval.
Details about the tax swap will be explained during the 2013 Legislature that convenes April 8, he said.
“These ideas will be debated thoroughly during the legislative session, and Louisianans will have plenty of opportunities to provide input on tax reform,” the Republican governor added.
Jindal has not released a final version of his tax policy, but has proposed eliminating the state income tax on Jan. 1, 2014, in favor of raising the state sales tax to 5.88% from 4%. When local sales taxes are factored in, the total sales tax rate would top 10% in many places under Jindal’s plan. He would also end dozens of tax exemptions.
“Something like this is going to touch every taxpayer in Louisiana,” Kennedy said in Monday’s address to the North Rapides Business and Industry Council in Alexandria. “Something this comprehensive is going to have big winners and big losers.”
Voters in 1989 rejected Gov. Buddy Roemer’s plan to lower the sales tax and increase the income tax, but in 2002 they approved a similar proposal supported by Gov. Mike Foster, known as the Stelly Plan after the legislator who suggested it.
“Both Gov. Roemer and Gov. Foster allowed the people to vote after explaining to them carefully who would win and who would lose, and what the changes would be,” Kennedy said. “The people got to vote it up or down. I’m asking Gov. Jindal to do the same.”