Mike Stagg LIVE: Louisiana Coastal Plan

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 11:22
Treasurer Kennedy:Tax increases should need two thirds vote
 

kennedy-officeThe Legislature just raised taxes by $400 million with a simple majority vote. The business community has filed a lawsuit contending that a two-thirds' vote was required. If the business community loses, we should amend Louisiana's constitution to make the two-thirds' vote requirement clear. Here's why.

 

Flip to Article VII, Section 2 of the Louisiana Constitution, and you'll learn about the hefty hurdle the Legislature is supposed to clear in levying a new tax, increasing an existing tax or repealing an existing tax exemption. Doing any of those things is supposed to require the approval of two-thirds of the House and the Senate.

A two-thirds' vote is hard to achieve. It's supposed to be.

Do you know who established that hurdle? You, the voters and taxpayers of Louisiana did, and rightly so.

Tax increases impact families and businesses. They put a pinch on pocketbooks and profit margins. You can't set aside as much for your kids' college education if you're paying more in taxes. You can't expand your business. You can't save as much for retirement.

The $827 million in new taxes and fees passed by the Legislature last spring will affect about every Louisianian, from citizens asking for a copy of their driving record to the largest petrochemical company. Nearly $400 million of that additional revenue was passed by less than a two-thirds' vote. The Legislature says only a majority vote is required in this instance.

All of this was done because state officials refuse to force state government to live within its means. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We don't have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem.

The legislative session wasn't over a month before the business community filed suit, raising some very good arguments. The first lawsuit (there may be more) involves House Concurrent Resolution No. 8. HCR8 suspends an exemption on 1 percent of the sales and use tax on business utilities, which means many businesses now must pay more in sales taxes on their utility bills. In its lawsuit, the Louisiana Chemical Association argues that HCR8 is unconstitutional because it was not passed by two-thirds of the House.

The litigation is in its infancy. The result is uncertain. What's not uncertain is this: The Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973, which rewrote the state's constitution, visited the two-thirds' vote requirement and opted overwhelmingly against making any changes. They kept the two-thirds' vote requirement to raise taxes that was also in the 1921 constitution.

Consider this excerpt from a memo written by the research staff of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention in 1973: "The greatest advantage of the two-thirds rule is in preventing the legislature from enacting tax laws which could place too much of a tax burden on the taxpayers. Accordingly, the two-thirds rule prevents the legislature from passing tax laws too hastily and without serious considerations." That's why the convention committee notes on the two-thirds' requirement proposal say that a two-thirds' vote is required on "all tax matters" - no exceptions.

Raising taxes should require serious thought. If the Legislature truly needs to do it, there should be broad, deep support, not a simple majority. A supermajority requirement makes for a stronger, more durable law. Generations of Louisiana voters have insisted on a supermajority to raise taxes.

If the courts rule against the Louisiana Chemical Association, it will probably be on a technicality, such as that our constitution is somehow unclear. If that happens, we need to amend our state constitution immediately to provide in simple, clear and unmistakable language what I believe the delegates who drafted our constitution and the voters who approved it intended all along: a two-thirds' vote is required whenever the Legislature votes in any fashion to take more money out of taxpayers' pockets. Period. No exceptions.

DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE? TELL US BELOW

 

Media Sources

BayoubuzzSteve

Website: www.bayoubuzz.com
Login to post comments
Powered By JFBConnect
  • Edwards gets Graves challenge on Louisiana flood relief money
  • Gov. Edwards's pugnacious state of union gave wrong Louisiana vision
  • Trump plus 80 days: Jim Brown, Bernie Pinsonat talk US, Louisiana politics
  • Trump should be like Reagan, not like Bush

graves c 3Shades of Katrina?

    Is political partisanship raising its ugly head again in the face of another Louisiana disaster?  Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards thinks so.

    Edwards got some rough treatment from a congressional committee in Washington, D.C. when he testified before it recently about the state’s response to flood problems.

Read More

jbeWith equal parts pugnaciousness and disingenuousness, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ highly-politicized 2017 State of the State speech laid out a truly flawed vision for Louisiana going forward.

Read More

jim bernieIs Russia now our enemy, once again?

Did Donald Trump make the right move or was the latest attack, simply some wag the dog?

Read More

Iron nancy reagan 6n 1986, United States President Ronald Reagan authorized military aircraft to unleash a torrent of bombs in Tripoli, Libya to send a strong message to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The attack was in response to Gaddafi’s involvement in the terrorist bombing of a Berlin disco that resulted in the death of American soldiers. 

Read More

latter-blum2

Sen. Appel talks budget, economy

TRUMP TALK

Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1