Today, the chairs of Louisiana's four public postsecondary systems - the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the LSU System, the Southern University System Board of Supervisors, and the UL System, in conjunction with the Louisiana Board of Regents, sent a joint letter to seek funding for higher education and for TOPS..
With the Louisiana legislature revving up to start later this afternoon for its 3rd special session to deal with next year's budget which starts July 1 this year, here's the big question--will three be the charm? Actually, if you want to get technical, you can add the regular session to the mix, which would make four. However, that regular session prohibited raising any revenues since it was not a fiscal session, so, we won't count it to the tally.
Today, CABL (the Council for a Better Louisiana) issued a statement via email that supports the five cent sales tax that was proposed during the second special session this year in dealing with the budget. The letter is below:
The second special session of 2018 has come and gone, although it didn’t go quietly. The theatrics in the last hour of debate rivaled some of Hollywood’s greatest performances. But still, the dramatics were not worth the waste of time and, more importantly, not worth Louisiana taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Can you put lipstick on a pig? Well, business leaders are certainly giving it their best shot in an effort to counteract the fact that Louisiana’s outrageously expensive insurance rates make the Bayou State an environment hostile to the attraction of new businesses. But, last week, compounding the problem, new figures showed automobile rates continue to rise, along with insurance rates for every homeowner. And unfortunately, both legislators and insurance regulators are assuming a blasé attitude — “that’s just the price you have to pay for living in Louisiana.”
Governor John Bel Edwards and his administration claims that the state needs to raise the sales tax to 4.5 cents this legislative session beginning Monday. If the legislature, particularly the House do not produce enough votes to hit that supermajority needed to raise taxes, Edwards and others are claiming that fiscal hell will break loose. They claim that University kids and parents will have to fork over 30 percent of the TOPS scholarship plus the colleges would be in the hole close to over 100 million dollars. They claim that homes for the aged will close, food stamps disappear, 10,000 non-violent criminals will hit the streets.
It's the Louisiana seventeen cents penny opera.
When one really considers the current debate in the Louisiana legislature starting next week in another special session to complete the budget for next year which fiscal year starts July 1, the differences between the revenues that have been approved so far compared to those that the Governor and others want to pay for government services already appropriated, is miniscule.
As has been reported, the difference between the 33% and the 4.5% of a single penny comes down to a mere seventeen cents sales tax on a one hundred dollars of a purchase.
Who and what is to be blamed for the State of Louisiana's needing a third-special session just this year to attempt to fashion a operating document that funds government, provides necessary services yet provides room for businesses to grow? What is the state doing that other states are not doing that has resulted in ongoing budgetary crises, year after year after year? Are the legislature and Governor John Bel Edwards, being successful in their tackling the real issue, that is, the actual structure in which we raise revenues and appropriate spending, or, are we simply putting out raging fires, every spring?
How far are the government stakeholders away from agreement on the Louisiana budget? Is Governor Edwards being straight-forward about the governmental needs and the inability to fund them? Will TOPS funding remain at a 30 percent cut or will the House of Representatives force a reduction on those reductions? Is there really government waste fraud and abuse or is that just talking points?
Would Louisiana taxpayers really be hurt if the legislature toed the line and failed to raise the sales tax of $4.33 upward to $4.50? Or, is there enough waste, fraud, and abuse in state government spending and more efficiencies to consider before raising another .17 cents or less, when the Louisiana State Legislature meets in the third fiscal session this year? The special session starts Monday June 18, the government players must talk turkey and a budget and revenues must be determined before the new fiscal year begins, July 1.