The governor’s office and republican caucus are preparing proposed state budgets.
After years of special sessions and delaying much needed reforms, representative Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, said this year might see compromise and tax reforms.
“We have to pass tax policy reform,” he said. “It is all-out of whack.”
Louisiana has 371 sales tax exemptions and Reynolds said if those were eliminated, state sales tax could be lowered to 1 or 2 percent.
In addition to reviewing sales tax, Reynolds said corporate tax in the state needs to be adjusted.
“We received zero dollars from corporate sales tax last year,” he said, noting a failed amendment on the November ballot would have resolved the issue. “Our budget and tax policies must be fixed.”
The Revenue Estimating Convention will meet this week to review the budget and make proposals. The governor then has 30 days to work on balancing the budget.
“We all have to find a way to agree to balance the budget so that we can avoid continuing to cut higher education and other areas that have taken hard hits over the past eight years,” Reynolds said. “Over the next month there is much to do and a lot on our plate.”
Reynolds hopes to avoid a special session due to delays caused by budget disagreements.
“Instead of kicking the can down the road, we ought to be able to take this by the horns,” he said. “We need to make the difficult votes, reform our tax policy and find long term solutions to the state budget.”
Reynolds said legislators are involved in weekly conference calls with the governor’s office.
“Everyone is on the same page – that this is hard, but necessary work,” he said. “It is a matter of compromise and finding a budget package we can move forward with.”
Reynolds hopes this week and this year’s session will be productive.
“To go down there and do nothing is a waste of time,” he said. “It’s a disservice to taxpayers not to find solutions.”