Special Session Week 2 – Still Waiting On Real Solutions
Louisiana lawmakers were brought into a special session one week ago. The purpose of the special session was to solve the state's incredible budget crisis. We're currently $900 million in arrears. That deficit must be satisfied by the end of the fiscal year June 30th.
In the first week of the special session there was a lot of lip service and some minimal gains on the deficit. But to be truthful no new meaningful legislation was actually presented for a vote. That will have to change if lawmakers are going to make some headway by March the 9th.
The biggest suggestions that have been floated before the legislature are in the form of new taxes, or should I say an increase in taxes. The most widely accepted tax increase comes in the form of a higher tax on cigarettes and tobacco. A recent survey found that more Louisiana citizens were in favor of this option versus the other option of raising the sales tax in the state by a penny.
On the agenda for today's session are expected votes in the Ways and Means Committee on several proposed tax increases. In addition to the proposed increase in tax on cigarettes lawmakers will consider raising the tax on alcohol and an increase in corporate taxes and individual income tax.
The battle lines in the budget continue to be drawn along political party lines. Many Republican members of the legislature are suggesting that Governor John Bel Edwards needs to consider making deeper cuts in spending instead of increasing the tax burden on the residents of the state. Edwards maintains that a tax increase is necessary in order to cover the deficit.