Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Suspension of tax break could save higher education

Tell lawmakers to support SB 335. Please click here.

To the surprise of many, the Senate on Wednesday endorsed a bill that will suspend a tax break to provide $118 million for higher education.
SB 335 by Sen. Lydia Jackson would temporarily suspend a portion of a tax deduction for excess federal itemized personal deductions.

That sounds confusing. What it means is that the excess itemized tax deduction would stay at its current 65% level for three years, instead of increasing to 100%. The result would be a $118 million revenue stream that would offset some of the $200 million slated to be slashed from our universities, colleges and technical schools.

This is not a new tax. It is a temporary suspension of a deduction that has not yet gone into effect.
Without the revenue, our higher education institutions face drastic cuts that will erase the gains made in recent years. Governor Bobby Jindal has vowed to veto the bill if it passes, but it was adopted in the Senate by a veto-proof 29-9 vote.

It now must be approved by the House Ways and Means Committee before it can come before the full House of Representatives for a vote.

This bill may be the last, best chance to avert disastrous cuts to higher education. Please click here to send a message to members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Associated Press reporter Doug Simpson covered the Senate vote for this article.

The Times-Picayune published an editorial in favor of the bill here.

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