by Ann Porter
The centerpiece of Governor John Bel Edwards’s plan to fix the $900 million dollar budget deficit was a “clean penny” increase in the state sales tax. I wasn’t a fan. Sales taxes are regressive and hit poor people harder. Louisiana already has one of the highest sales tax burdens in the country when local and state taxes are combined. But we are in a desperate situation. The Governor explained that he dislikes the option also, but revenue is needed immediately to fix the deficit. Revenue from an increase in income tax rates (which would be preferred) won’t be realized soon enough. An extra penny in state sales tax, combined with some budget cuts and elimination of some tax credits and exemptions, could bring the situation under control.
Now, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) is recommending an ADDITIONAL penny sales tax on top of the one that’s already passed. LABI recommends that this function as a stopgap measure that steps down over time, giving the legislature time to fix the structural problems with our tax code. Conveniently, this would negate the need for business to assume any share of the burden of fixing the problem their cronies and lackies got us into in the first place. Yeah, I’m bitter.
Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project calls this additional penny “a bridge too far.” Moller writes, “Times of crisis call for shared sacrifice. But the deal being offered by big business interests to solve Louisiana’s historic budget shortfall would violate that basic principle by putting too much of the burden on working families that can least absorb a tax increase.”
CALL TO ACTION
We in St. Tammany Parish are in an interesting position in that only two members of our delegation, Paul Hollis and John Schroder, voted for the FIRST penny. Let’s lend our voices to the effort to stop this bailout of big business on the backs of working people. Call your representative TODAY and ask him to vote AGAINST a tax increase. How easy should that be, right?
Representative Scott Simon – District 74 – 985.893.6246
Representative Kevin Pearson – District 76 – 985.646.6487
Representative John Schroder – District 77 – 985.893.6262
Representative Reid Falconer – District 89 – 985.792.5185
Representative Gregory Cromer – District 90 – 985.645.3592
Representative Paul Hollis – District 104 – 985.871.4680