There will likely be a Special Session after sine die to address the shortfall in revenue for the state. Among the items that are set to be considered are yet more tax increases. JBE is even planning to target the “rich” for higher income taxes.
Before the Hillbilly Caudillo decides to raid Louisiana’s businesses and entrepeneurs for more money, he might want to look at this chart.
— Camille Conaway (@CamilleConaway) May 12, 2016
Louisiana is hemorraging jobs due to continued low oil prices and the ripple effects of that. The oil industry is suffering as bad as the 1980s. On top of that, the national economy is showing signs of slowing down.
Higher taxes will only be an additional expense and burden upon Louisiana businesses. As the costs of government continue to go up, that will make it more difficult for Louisiana’s businesses to keep the lights on and their doors open. The last batch of tax increases enacted by the Legislature are already hurting the state’s businesses.
The state needs to balance its books, but it should not be done on the backs of already struggling businesses. Instead lawmakers need to find the political courage to slay some sacred cows.
What are some of those sacred cows? For starters, closing some of Louisiana’s 14 public 4 year universities. There is no reason why a state this small should have that many public 4-year universities in an era of online education and private alternatives.
Another sacred cow that needs to be slaughtered is K-12 education funding. Louisiana spends the most per student in K-12 education per capita in the Southeast, but we are the 3rd worst performing state in national standardized tests. Our current system priortizes the needs of adults instead the needs of children. We should expand more private options such as charter schools and education tax credits so the state can get a better return for its buck.
We should also look at supplemental pay for cops and firemen. The salaries for local and parish first responders need to be paid for by local and parish governments. Baton Rouge should not be in the business of paying local government employees.
Finally, here’s the big reform. The state government needs to stop doing things that local and parish governments should be doing for themselves. They need to be given the flexibility to raise their own revenue by reforming the homestead exemption and to set their own sales tax rates.
All of this will take political courage, but the state will be better off for it.