Monday, 20 June 2016 11:59

Louisiana legislative budget clock ticks to taxes, deficits decisions

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Tick tock.
After now, almost five months of debate and discussion and public relations by a variety of perspective, the budget crunch comes down to whether the Louisiana House committee and the House can raise more money or stay pat.

The session ends no later than the 23rd of June.  

At issue are budget cuts to healthcare, higher education, k-12 and TOPS.

Here is a recent comment from the Louisiana Budget Project, followed by up-to-date twitter stream and important twitter links of organizations such as Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and others.

Revenue options dwindle as adjournment nears
Louisiana is one of only four states that allow taxpayers to deduct their state income-tax payments on their state tax returns. It's a nonsensical tax break that serves no economic purpose, and disproportionately benefits the richest 5 percent of taxpayers. But on Sunday evening, a majority of the state House refused to eliminate this deduction, which would have raised $88 million to pay for critical needs in healthcare, higher education and public safety. Gannett's Greg Hilburn: 

Rep. Malinda White, D-Bogalusa, made a passionate plea for her bill, but virtually all bills that would raise income taxes have fallen on deaf ears in the House. "I weep for all of our people who aren't wealthy and need these critical services that are at risk," an emotional White said afterward. "I don't fear pressure from people who don't know what it's like to be on the bottom. I don't fear these Republicans who hold a (political) gun to my head. I'll tell them they have to pull the trigger."
With four days left before lawmakers must adjourn, it appears the House is only willing to approve $222 million in new revenues for next year. That means the remaining $600 million shortfall (which will likely be $200 million higher) will have to be filled with cuts. But as the AP's Melinda Deslatte reports, Louisiana's budget problems aren't going away, since most of the revenue increases approved by legislators this year and last have a 2018 expiration date. 

But while some tax changes were made permanent, the governor and lawmakers made the two biggest-ticket items in the first special session - the 1-cent state sales tax increase and the removal of some sales tax breaks - temporary. More than $1.1 billion raised annually from sales taxes are set to expire in two years, leaving a massive hole in state coffers. On top of that, bills enacted by lawmakers in 2015 and signed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal to shrink an array of business subsidies across the board expire in June 2018. Millions of dollars in increased tax break costs are slated to kick back in with that expiration date. In other words, Edwards, the House and the Senate have another looming financial crisis of their own making on the horizon for the 2018-19 budget year.           


Important twitter streams to review:


Louisiana Progress Action

Louisiana Democrats

Louisiana Republicans


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