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internet taxesYou would think that in the New Year, following a year when the Louisiana legislature raised taxes by over one billion dollars, lawmakers would sense the public’s anti-tax fervor and would be averse to mining every nook and cranny for more taxes.  But now Governor John Bel Edwards, with full legislative support and in a desperate attempt to send more revenue to state coffers, is quite willing to stick purchasers with sales taxes for whatever they buy online. 

 

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EDWARDS PRESS2Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards threw overboard outgoing Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon because the latter’s use as a political instrument became too costly to the former’s political future.

Last week, Edwards announced the departure of Melancon after less than a year on the job. Melancon later clarified, saying he had been dismissed but would stay on the job until completion of an audit of past agency practices.

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

The election is over, and it is time to get to work. Well, sort of.

Now that we have a new U.S. Senator, two new Congressmen and a few new local officials, some special elections will need to be held to replace those winners vacating other offices. As those elections happen, other elections will likely be needed to fill some of the expected vacancies. In short, while elections never truly end in Louisiana, the time is now to start sharpening those pencils and getting your calculator prepared for the 2017 legislative session (or sessions) where tax increases will once again take center stage.

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edwards midSomething’s going to have to give, and likely that means public approval of Democrat John Bel Edwards will fall unless he changes his agenda. In a recent poll, Edwards checked in with about five-eighths of registered voters approving of his job performance, versus a third who disapproved. His rating came in a bit overstated, however, as the sample contained 49 percent Democrats compared to just 44 percent statewide, and that a significant gap appeared in judging him favorably between Democrats much more friendly to him and Republicans. Also worth considering: Democrats tend to turn out to vote in disproportionately fewer numbers than Republicans, by a small margin.
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edwards presser mar9Another budget shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2016 and another likely heated battle over stabilizing the Louisiana budget.  Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement:

Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the budget shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2016 (FY 16). The Revenue Estimating Conference announced that the FY 16 shortfall was approximately $313 million. According to state law, any deficit for the previous fiscal year must be addressed prior to the end of the next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne will outline the specifics of the budget stabilization proposals at a Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget hearing on Friday, Nov. 18.

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louisiana capital 3Louisiana’s task force instructed to produce fiscal reform has suggested, very wisely, the elimination of the inventory tax. Not only will that need other changes attached, but also a lot of luck to succeed.

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edwards play money 1Increasingly clearly, a special state panel convened to study recommendations changing Louisiana’s tax code serves little more than an excuse to lock in overgrown government, specifically paying for Medicaid expansion, by making a temporary tax hike permanent.

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la film 2According to Chris Stelly, Louisiana state is very competitive and becoming increasingly diversified in its entertainment business.  Stelly, who is Executive Director Louisiana Office of Entertainment Industry, Division of Louisiana Economic Development, made these and other comments in a Facebook Live interview with Bayoubuzz Publisher Stephen Sabludowsky, Friday morning. 

More particularly, Stelly said the film industry is making a comeback after a slight setback due to the budget woes which created a perception problem that the film industry was failing.

 

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louisiana capital 3A new report adds impetus to the idea that Louisiana can save money by rearranging resources in correctional policy.

Last week my column for The Advocate noted how greater reliance upon private operation of state prisons could save the state money, contrary to the budgetary decision this year that cut reimbursement to private operators. By doing that, those operators need no longer provide rehabilitative and treatment programs, on par with local facilities holding state prisoners that receive the same $24.39 per day per inmate. About half of all state prisoners at any given time serve time in a local facility, but fewer than half of those institutions provide this kind of programming standard in state lockups.

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Louisiana capitolThe impact from the Great Flood of 2016 continues to be felt across Louisiana. Almost one-third of the state, 20 parishes, has been declared a disaster area. Over 100,000 people have applied for FEMA disaster aid. Initial estimates are that over 40,000 home were destroyed and possibly 90% of the people impacted by the storm did not have flood insurance. 

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