Senate and House Democrats introduced resolutions this week to suspend legislative rules and allow for a bill to be filed that would delay implementation of the upcoming franchise tax phase out.
Democratic minority leaders Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, and Sen. Bill Stone, D-Holly Springs, filed the resolutions Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
“We wanted to put our money where our mouths are,” Baria said after the House adjourned on Wednesday.
The House resolution would delay the implementation of the franchise tax cut by two years, while the Senate version would delay implementation by one year.
“We wanted something that was practical, and we felt like a delay of one year was that,” Stone said Thursday.
The resolutions came a week after Democrats held an informal meeting with reporters to speak out against tax cuts and blame Republican leadership for the state’s budget woes.
Baria is the principal author of House Concurrent Resolution 102, which calls for the rules to be suspended so a bill can be introduced that would “delay the date of the initial scheduled tax reduction for the phase out of the corporation franchise tax.” Several other Democratic legislators are also authors.
The prospects for success for the resolutions are not good because of the complicated procedural steps required and little time remaining before the April 2 scheduled end of the legislative session. Additionally, Republican legislative leaders have rejected talk of slowing implementation of the franchise rollback, which begins July 1.
The resolutions need to be referred to a committee in their respective houses (it was referred to Rules in the House), passed out of committee and approved on the chamber floors. Then the resolutions would move to the opposite house for the same process. If one of the resolutions pass both houses, then a bill can be introduced, and would need to pass out of each house, again with committee action likely, just like other bills.
“So it’s a long shot, but at least we’re attempting to do what we think is the most prudent course” of action, Baria said.
“This would at least postpone taking over $400 million in revenue from our revenue stream,” he said. “We can’t absorb that kind of loss given where we are right now.”
Baria said he would like to see the phase out of the franchise tax be delayed for at least two years, “until we can see our way through this fiscal mess that we’re in right now.”
Lawmakers have repeatedly said the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 will be tight. The legislative budget proposal released in December would slash $195 million of the $6 billion budget, and most state agencies would be cut.
Both Senate and House appropriations bills now working their way through the Legislature mirror that forecast.