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by Stephen Waguespack, President and CEO of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

The myriad of political and policy changes afoot in the State Capitol have dominated many a headline over the last year or so. We have a Louisiana economy in recession, a state budget seemingly in constant deficit, a host of previously passed reforms under reconsideration and an increasingly chaotic political landscape. Negative consequences of every possible scenario are well documented in excruciating detail, although real analysis on consensus-driven plans to reform the system is much harder to come by. While fiscal analysts remain unsure of the actual amount of taxes raised just last month, there is already a growing drumbeat for more taxes this summer.

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john bel edwards loresby Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net

What is he thinking?
One has to wonder what Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards thinks about when he lays his head on his pillow at night in the Governor’s Mansion.

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Kennedy interview2Treaurer John Kennedy, who is running for US Senate, has issued a strongly-worded statement regarding Moody's downgrading of Louisiana's credit rating.  In his statement, he appears to be making a direct attack upon Governor Jon Bel Edwards's administration,  former Governor Bobby Jindal, and perhaps the legislature.  Edwards who inherited a $950M deficit from Jindal for the remainder of the year and a $2.0 budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.

 

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penny tax 2There are not many choices Louisiana now has to deal with the immediate problem of raising roughly $940 million dollars before the end of the ffiscal year, June 30.

In part 3 of an interview with LSU economist James “Jim” Richardson, who has been the economist for the Revenue Estimating Conference, sales tax is the only vehicle to raise enough money quick enough.  

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ed chervenak2by Dr. Ed Chervenak, Political Science Professor, University of New Orleans

I have been following JBE’s first days in office. What we are seeing is the distinction of the politics of getting into office and the politics of governing. Once a candidate gains power, they are transformed. Where Edwards was the challenger and critic, he is now the head of the state government, and is responsible for its conduct.

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edwardsAlmost three years ago he railed against a plan that would have given Louisiana in the aggregate the highest sales tax in the country. During his run for governor, he said he would not raise taxes and decried the use of “one-time” money to balance budgets. Yesterday, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, eight days into office, declared he wanted to do all of the above to address this fiscal year's predicted budget deficit.

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jim jeff budgetAny time you discuss taxes, you can bet the discussion will turn emotional.

It did Tuesday night, hours after Jon Bel Edwards announced his plan to raise taxes, utilize funds from various sources and cut government spending—all to plug a short-term hole of roughly $750 million dollars for the existing year and $1.9 million for the following year, which fiscal period begins July 1, 2016.

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Louisiana dead last 3Talk about beginner's luck.

Jon Bel Edwards takes over the Governor's mansion from former Presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal and is on the job for one day.  Lo and behold, his name becomes associated with the worst state in the union--Louisiana.  

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louisiana capitolLouisiana is a budget disaster with not too many options.  In part two of our conversation with Dr. Pearson Cross of University of Louisiana, we discussed the severity of the budget gap between revenues and expenses.  In this segment, we talked possible solutions, Medicaid expenses, the Jindal Administration using bait and switch practices, the possible losers and reducing the number of universities in the state, a position favored by many conservatives.

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PEARSON CROSSThe issue of taxes, revenues and incoming Governor Jon Bel Edwards’ intentions considering a horrible budget deficit has been part of the continuing debate and dialogue since the elections in November.  The speculation was fueled further when the incoming Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne, recently announced that all revenue sources needs to be considered because the budget gap is nearing a horrific $2.5 billion over the next year and a half and worse than initially anticipated.

 

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