Jindal backs off of his tax reform plan: "Let's work together"

Earlier this year, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal promised to undertake the major task of simplifying the state’s tax code in the interests of promoting economic competition, business friendliness, and job growth; and last month, he unveiled his plan to get rid of income and corporate taxes in favor of a sales tax increase from 4 to 5.88 percent. There was quite a lot of grumbling about the specifics of his plan, however, and in a surprise move on Monday, he opened the 2013 legislative session with the announcement that he’s going to at least temporarily shelve his proposal in favor of inviting tax-reform ideas from state lawmakers.

“I listened to what the people of this great state had to say,” Jindal said during his speech to the joint session Monday. “I heard them say, ‘We do want to get rid of the income tax. We think that’s great. But we’re also worried you’re moving too quickly. And we’re not sure your plan is the best way to do it.’” …

“Let’s work together, let’s pass a bill this session. Let’s get rid of the income tax once and for all in the state of Louisiana,” Jindal said to applause and a standing ovation from the assembled lawmakers. “Send me that bill to get rid of those taxes. Send me that bill and make Louisiana the best state in the country to create jobs, to raise a family.”

Speaking after the Jindal’s remarks, lawmakers said they were willing to discuss alternative tax plans now that the governor’s tax swap plan is off the table. State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said she and other members of the Black Caucus would propose an alternative plan.

Probably a wise move, for the moment — he acknowledged that the support for his plan just wasn’t there, and his state approval rate has seen an accompanying slide — but now he can take up the mantle of a conservative leader who came out swinging with a bold plan and catalyzed a tough conversation, instead of governing with weaksauce pandering. A big win on this type of issue would have made a spectacular issue for, oh, say, a 2016 presidential run maybe, but even if any final results aren’t nearly as ambitious as he’d hoped, he’ll still be able to say that he spurred Louisiana into action and garnered some bipartisan accomplishments. Let’s see where this goes.