State leaders spar ahead of special session

January 03, 2018 - 8:46 am

The looming fiscal cliff has party leaders preparing for a series of tense negotiations ahead of a January 19th deadline imposed by Governor John Bel Edwards. That deadline was set with the hope that legislative leaders would have the framework for a deal to address an imminent one billion dollar shortfall. State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere is not happy with the governor’s deadline…

“He wants to usurp their powers and become a dictator and do everything by executive order. He is demanding that he do what he wants or he’s going to punish them and the people of Louisiana.”

Edwards wants a deal in principle by January 19th so he can call a special session in February to pass new tax laws to address the budget deficit. The Governor says he wants a revenue neutral plan, but Villere says Edwards is really calling for a tax hike.

“He wants to raise billions of dollar in taxes to make the shortfall.”

But Governor Edwards says he’s not looking for additional revenue in the new plan. He’s proposing to reduce the state sales tax from five to four cents, but remove sales tax exemptions on businesses and tax services like cable TV.

“The billion dollars in revenue that falls off I would like to replace with permanent structural tax reform that doesn’t produce more money but produces the revenue in a fair, predictable, and stable manner that will grow with the economy over time.”

Edwards says he set the deadline to avoid the legislative gridlock that could sink his hopes for substantial reform.

“I think we can get a majority vote out of the House and Senate to do what we need to fix the cliff in a responsible fashion and a balanced fashion, but you need a two-thirds vote and you can only get that with leadership."

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