Edwards wants to expand corporate taxes in what he calls a Commercial Activity Tax, which will affect almost every business operating in the state. He says it will net as much as $900 million in revenue.
He says his plan would shift more of the state tax burden to businesses, lessen sales taxes, and raise hundreds of millions for next year’s budget. Broadening the base and lowering the rates – that’s the cornerstone of his proposal.
Edwards wants to eliminate the federal income tax deduction, but lower taxes overall for 90% of citizens. Individuals making more that $140,000 a year would see a tax hike.
The governor also proposes doing away with the extra cent of sales tax from last year and expand sales taxes to services that were previously exempt.
“This reduction in the personal income tax rate will put more money into the pockets of hard- working Louisianians across this state,” Edwards said at a press conference.
He added, “For far too long the people of Louisiana have footed the bill for costly tax credits and exemptions while too many very profitable businesses don’t pay a penny of income taxes.”
Looking at the Legislature
The 2017 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature gets underway on Monday, April 10 and adjoins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 8.
The session is expected to be a difficult one as legislators deal with a $400 million budget shortfall for the 2017-2018 year. Additionally, tax reform will be the order of the day.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has put forth his plan to deal with the state’s budgetary problems and on reform of the state’s tax code to a majority-Republican House of Representatives and Senate.
That’s where the rubber meets the road with two different philosophies on how to solve the state’s problems. It promises to be a very interesting session.
Let’s take a look at the Legislature which will be dealing with these problems. First of all, one needs to consider those legislators who are term-limited. They can be a pretty independent bunch since they do not have to face re-election.
True, some House members may run for the Senate, and some Senate members may even run for the House, but for the most part, their careers in the Legislatures ares comings to an end. The nest legislative elections are in 2019.
In the House of Representatives, 36 members out of 105 are term-limited. In the Senate, 16 out of 39 members are term-limited.
In northwest Louisiana, three House members are term-limited. They are Reps. Thomas Carmody, R-District 6; Jim Morris, R-District 1; and Barbara Norton, D-District 3.
None of the area senators are term-limited. Sens. Barrow Peacock, R-District 37; and Greg Tarver, D- District 39, can serve one more term after this one. Sens. John Milkovich, D- District 38; and Ryan Gatti, R-District 36, are in their first terms.
As was noted, a Democratic governor is dealing with a Republican-majority House and Senate. Let’s look at the make-up of each body.
The House of Representatives consists of 58 Republicans, 41 Democrats, and three Independents. Among them are 17 women, 24 blacks, and one Hispanic.
The Senate is comprised of 25 Republicans, 12 Democrats, and two Independents. There are five women and eight blacks among its membership.
The Senate tends to be less conservative than the House, and that’s where Gov. Edwards will likely find a more friendly attitude to his proposals. Senate President John Alario is a Democrat-turned-Republican. He is also term-limited.
So the stage is set for what promises to be an historic legislative session. Louisiana has faced a budget deficit every year for the past eight years that ballooned to about $1 billion in 2016, according to the Division of Administration, which oversees the budget.
The big problem comes in the 2018-2019 fiscal year when the expiration of $1.5 billion in temporary tax hikes passed in 2015 come to an end.
The governor has hinted that if a resolution to the state’s problems cannot be reached, he may call for a constitutional convention. Louisiana’s current Constitution took effect in 1975 after a sweeping 1973 convention and a statewide 1974 vote to approve it.