A group calling itself Better Choices for a Better Louisiana – which is a front outfit for left-leaning organizations like the NAACP, the teachers’ unions, AARP, the AFL-CIO, the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, AFSCME and SEIU – put out a release today touting some $900 million in tax increases to close the state’s budget deficit.
It will be interesting to see which of the state’s legislators jump on board with these “Better Choices” with a statewide election cycle looming. The organization’s co-founder Eddie Ashworth, who actually gets a check from LANO (the Better Choices group appears to be a creation of the non-profit organization collective) and another from the Southern Poverty Law Center, admitted getting any of them passed is akin to “pushing a rock up a hill.”
The Jindal administration has said it will veto any and all tax increases proposed or passed in the upcoming regular session.
Among the tax hikes the group is asking for…
—A $1-per-pack increase on the state cigarette tax, to raise $301 million a year. The tax would grow from 36 cents to $1.36.
—A 5 percent increase in the state tax on riverboat casinos and a 4 percent tax hike on video poker, to raise more than $100 million a year.
—A $2.50-per-barrel increase in the beer tax, an 86-cent per liter increase in the wine tax and a 24-cent per liter increase in the liquor tax to generate $38.5 million a year.
—The suspension of tax breaks enacted in 2007 and 2008 that cut income taxes on middle- and upper-income workers. The rollback reversed provisions of the so-called Stelly Plan that had been approved by voters only a few years earlier.
AARP apparently is on board with everything but the Stelly rollback. They like taxes on everybody but their membership, as their stance on Obamacare showed.
The rest of the outfits listed on the Better Choices website read like a who’s-who of the Louisiana Democrat Party’s constituency groups. In short, their proposals might not officially represent the party’s position, but it’s tough not to associate the two.
Or maybe not. The Better Choices group doesn’t seem to have too many legislative champions at the Capitol so far.
Democrat state rep Harold Ritchie of Bogalusa has proposed a hike on cigarette taxes in HB63, but not a dollar-per-pack sales tax hike – it’s 3.5 cents per cigarette, or 70 cents per pack. Ritchie’s bill is the only one so far filed in the House conforming to the Better Choices group’s recommendations, and even then it’s greatly watered down.
In the Senate, so far there are no bills speaking to the group’s agenda.
Pushing a rock up a hill, indeed.
One wonders whether the folks at Better Choices for a Better Louisiana thought through their ideas for a massive tax increase on Louisianans during an election year when there are already Republican majorities in both houses and a Republican governor who has said for five months that he won’t support tax increases. Forget about the idea that any of these tax increases might be good policy (they aren’t), or that there is any appreciable public support for them (outside of a cigarette tax increase, there isn’t – and even though some support for tax hikes on cigarettes might exist the idea of quadrupling taxes on cigarettes is likely to come off as extreme as well).
Politics is the art of the possible. These people – supported by a who’s-who of Democrat constituency groups – wasted the statewide media’s time with a host of proposals which are distinctly impossible.
Better Choices? Try better politics next time.