Senate sends tax bill to Gov. Edwards, funds TOPS

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Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, presided over a 33-6 vote on Sunday to approve a sales tax compromise between Gov. John Bel Edwards and the House. (Credit: Sarah Gamard)

Paul Braun and Drew White

In a 33-6 vote Sunday, the Senate sent a sales tax bill to Gov. John Bel Edwards that could end the financial instability that has dominated discussions at the Capitol and led to seven special sessions since he took office in 2016.

The bill, which represented a compromise Friday between Edwards and House Republicans, will extend 0.45 of a cent of sales tax that was scheduled to expire on July 1.

That will lower the state’s portion of the sales tax to 4.45 percent from 5 percent now. But by not letting the full penny expire, it will raise $463 million to fully fund TOPS scholarships, higher education and state health services and reduce cuts in other areas. The extra 0.45 of a cent will expire in 2025.

Edwards and House Republican leaders also have grappled for control over the budget process, and the Senate voted 39-0 Sunday to pass a supplementary budget bill after acceding to House demands about how some of the spending choices might eventually be made. The House then ratified that deal 88-7, ending the special session.

Read the story in The Natchitoches Times.

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