NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of the nation’s most prominent Republicans and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has fallen out of favour with local voters, and his bold plan to scrap the state income tax is running into trouble.
Jindal was re-elected to a second term with two-thirds of the vote in 2011. But his Louisiana approval rating was down to 38 per cent in a recent poll, worse than Democratic President Barack Obama in one of the most conservative states.
The poll suggested voters think he is spending more time travelling outside the state and burnishing his credentials for a possible White House run than tending to local matters.
As the Louisiana Legislature prepared to kick off its two-month session today, Jindal’s signature proposal to eliminate the state income tax is facing resistance.
His detailed plan would do away with all state personal and corporate income taxes. It also calls for a 56 per cent increase in the state sales tax, a much higher cigarette tax, and the elimination of some tax loopholes to make up the $3 billion shortfall from scrapping the income taxes.
To allay fears that the plan would hurt the poor, Jindal has proposed a rebate for low-income residents and some retirees.
The governor says the change would attract business by making Louisiana competitive with states such as oil-rich neighbour Texas, which has no income tax.
In speeches across the state, he has cast it as a way to simplify the system, make it fairer, and give people more control over their own money.
Eliminating income taxes would also be an attention-getting accomplishment for a Republican governor with national aspirations. (Reuters)