Yesterday, the Louisiana House of Representatives acted to close the hole in the Louisiana budget created by the fall in oil prices by cutting a significant amount of spending in the current fiscal year and laying the foundation for reforms going forward in an attempt to streamline the budget and to get spending under control. It was a small step, but it was a significant step in the right direction.
We also considered over 30 bills designed to raise taxes. I voted against all but one.
Given my record in the past of opposing ALL tax increases, I felt that this required an explanation. I voted for a one cent sales tax increase for 18 months. Before casting the vote, I secured commitments from everyone involved in drafting the budget that Higher Education including TOPS and LSU Medical School in Shreveport will be fully funded. The 18 month limitation will get us through the general session this year and the fiscal legislative session in 2017 which gives us an opportunity to structurally change the budget and make larger, long-term changes so that we are not forced to face devastating cuts to Higher Education every single year.
Louisiana spending is FAR out of control. Structural changes are needed, but were not included in the Governor’s call for the special session.
I voted against every other tax increase bill which came up yesterday and will vote against every one that comes up today just as I have voted against every other tax increase bill in my six years in the legislature. I would not have voted for this one if the situation were not as bad as it is or if there had been any other option.
We now have two years to get spending under control and make the changes necessary to get us back on track. Shame on us if we don’t.