We read in the news today that some at our state capitol apparently feel the need to make permanent the “temporary” .45 cent per dollar sales tax enacted in 2018 to balance the budget. You may recall that the tax was touted as a partial remedy for the two billion dollar deficit supposedly bequeathed to John Bel Edwards by Bobby Jindal. We have since learned that the two billion dollar deficit never existed, but the sales tax has remained with us nevertheless.
Republican legislator Paula Davis, who brokered the original tax deal, promised us at the time that the tax was only temporary, and would cease by its own terms in 2025. Yet the very same Paula Davis is now the author of HB693, which is the bill which would extend the sales tax through the year 2031! “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” as the saying goes.
As a consequence, Louisiana has and may very well continue to have one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, and this has cost us dearly in lost sales of goods and some services, business development, and ultimately, jobs. Yet the legislature now seeks to extend this temporary sales tax well into the future on the pretext that the revenue derived therefrom is needed for infrastructure. What we have here, dear friends, is what used to be known in street parlance as a “shell game,” and none of us should fall for such trickery again!
And the need to extend a temporary sales tax which raises about $380 million annually is doubly strange at this time. Louisiana is already awash in billions of dollars in cash flowing from the government coffers opened up by the Biden administration and the Democrats in Congress. We will soon receive even more freshly printed dollars from Washington, which is spending and printing money as if there will be no tomorrow. (Come to think of it, if federal spending continues at this pace for much longer, there will indeed be no tomorrow!)
Our neighboring states are reducing or eliminating taxes of all types. Why can’t Louisiana do the same?
On the critical race theory front, there is nothing new to report regarding Rep. Ray Garofalo’s HB564, which seeks to ban the teaching of critical race theory as fact in Louisiana schools. His bill was shot down in committee and as such remains on life support. Speaker Clay Schexnayder has since removed Rep. Garofalo from his chairmanship of the Education Committee, and taken away $1.2 million in badly needed improvements from his district.
The prospects for any other bills being amended to include the operative language of HB564 do not look good. Our thanks go out to Ray Garofalo for trying. Our Republican House leadership certainly has some very strange priorities in this session!
LOUIS GURVICH, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana