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Stelly Reduction Redux

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  The ongoing legislative debate over eliminating or phasing out the state income tax has given some veteran lawmakers a case of deja vu. "This is looking an awful lot like the Stelly rollback," says one New Orleans area legislator, adding, "I wonder how long it will take to flush out Bobby Jindal this time."

  Several income tax repeal measures have been introduced, but the one with the most traction is authored by state Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Livonia. It passed the Senate last week, but was heavily amended. It now goes to the House for consideration.

  The lawmaker's reference to Jindal harkens back to 2008, when the governor initially (but very quietly) opposed the so-called rollback of the Stelly income tax brackets. At no time did Jindal himself make any appearances or statements against it. The governor's absence on that issue allowed the Stelly rollback to gather so much momentum that it soon became unstoppable — at which point Jindal rushed to the front of the parade and pronounced himself in favor of the idea. And he has been taking credit for it ever since.

  When Marionneaux and others introduced their income tax repeal bills this year, few took them seriously. Now, however, Marionneaux's bill has grown some legs. Many Democratic lawmakers who are unhappy with Jindal have been supporting the repeal in the hopes of "jamming" Jindal into opposing it.

  They should think twice.

  Given Jindal's obvious national ambitions, he might welcome the chance to sign an income tax repeal law into effect. He could campaign for re-election on that platform in the fall — and then bail out of Louisiana long before the fiscal chickens come home to roost, leaving the next governor and future legislators to figure out how to fund highways, hospitals, universities, police protection, flood protection and many other items the state pays for each year. And, of course, all the while he'll be traveling the country claiming that he eliminated income taxes in Louisiana. — Clancy DuBos

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