Senate committee rejects resolution to suspend gaming industry taxes

A Senate committee rejected a gaming tax proposal by Sen. Barrow Peacock, standing at right in this photo with Sen. Bodi White, R-Baton Rouge.

Published: May 17, 2020

By: Maria Marsh, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee on Friday rejected a resolution that would have suspended taxes on promotional play wagers in the gaming industry and cost the state $29 million in tax revenues.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Committee voted 4-3 against the proposal by Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier, with three of his fellow Republicans among those opposing it.

The resolution was an attempt to fuel the gaming industry’s reopening following a nearly three-month halt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was one of several proposals this week by Republican lawmakers to provide tax breaks to help businesses that have been hurt by the virus.

The House Ways and Means Committee passed resolutions to suspend severance taxes on oil and gas and suspend business franchise taxes for a year to help companies and their workers rebound from the shutdown.

But other lawmakers expressed concern that the tax breaks would add to the $1 billion in revenue losses that the state faces as a result of the virus. That would make it harder for the Legislature to balance the budget and could force it to make larger cuts in health services and higher education.

Legislative analysts estimate that suspending the oil and gas severance tax would result in a loss of nearly $514 million in revenues for the state in the fiscal year beginning July 1. Suspending the franchise taxes levied on many types of business operations would decrease state revenue by  $378 million.

In debating Peacock’s bill, multiple senators voiced concern about the cost of the resolution. That tax break also would have expired after one year.

“We would be voting to cut $29.3 million dollars out of next year’s budget,” said Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, who opposed the resolution. “And on that hope, we would be hoping that it’s going to generate more money in revenue than we’re giving away?”

Read more at the Shreveport Times.

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