You may remember the fake “Fiscal Cliff” narrative JBE put out a few years ago. He called one special session after another, demanding (in two-year-old fashion) that taxes must be raised, or the entire state of Louisiana might just stuff off into the Gulf of Mexico. Several legislators made attempts at raising taxes to avert JBE’s made-to-order disaster. Many stood strong until the sheer exhaustion of one special session after another finally took its toll.
Originally, in the first special session of 2016, then representative Katrina Jackson created the a 1¢ sales tax under her House Bill 62. We were promised by everyone, including Edwards (who also promised during his 2015 campaign that he would not raise taxes) that this was only a temporary tax. After the legislature had time to work on the budget, this new, higher tax would no longer be necessary.
But then they got used to the money
It was Baton Rouge Representative, Paula Davis, who the media declared was the “face of Republican compromise,” arose to be JBE’s tax champion. Young, attractive, and quite pushy, she managed to negotiate her “compromise” bill (HB10) all the way to the governor’s desk. The tax, too, was billed as a “temporary” solution. It was supposed to allow yet more time for the legislature to identify other ways of keeping the leviathan of state government well fed. Never you mind that all this money comes straight out of the taxpayers’ pockets.
That “temporary tax” was supposed to end in 2025. Although the fiscal note (the estimate of how much this will cost the taxpayers) lists the impact of this bill as $2.5 BILLION in brand new taxes, it only calculated it through 2023. It’s $502 MILLION annual price tag for the last two years was left off. The actual cost through the expiration date meant Louisiana taxpayers had to pony up a whopping $3.7 BILLION!
Tick-tock, as the expiration date approaches
Now that the tax’s clock has been ticking down for three years, perhaps the taxpayer forgot the promise that all this was supposed to be temporary? Perhaps the taxpayers have become so accustomed to paying higher sales tax that they won’t really care if it’s extended? With only two years to go, if they really want to keep the money, they better get moving.
Our hero from 2018, Paula Davis, returns again to ply her unique influence and try for yet another five-year extension. That bill was HB693. However, to get it through the Ways and Means committee hearing, several members managed to be absent when the vote was taken around 7:38pm on April 27th. They were, Chairman Stuart Bishop, Rep. Buddy Mincey, Rep. Malinda White, and Rep. Mark Wright. There could have been more members absent, however, these four members were miraculously present for the adjournment vote, moments later.
Could the speaker have threatened to remove people from the committee if they voted against Davis’s tax? Considering the recent news with Rep Ray Garofalo, the theory isn’t that far flung. Pressuring members and coordinating absences to navigate the bill through committee is one thing. However, getting a two-thirds vote on the house floor is another matter entirely. Try as she would, Paula Davis just doesn’t seem to have the votes.
Paula Davis’s tax gets amended onto Speaker Pro Temore’s bill – removing the expiration date!
All of this negotiating must be taking its toll. “We promise it’s only for two years.” Followed soon after by, “We just need seven more years.” These deadlines must be getting tiresome. Since Paula Davis’s bill doesn’t seem to be moving on the house floor, Senator Rick Ward, from Port Allen (just over the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge), decided to add Davis’s bill (minus the expiration date) onto Speaker Pro Tempore, Tanner Magee‘s marijuana legalization bill, HB514.
Magee’s bill has already been through the house floor with the requisite two-thirds vote. So, if this bill manages to get through the remainder of the senate process, an unfavorable vote on the house floor won’t kill it, but only send it to a compromise committee. That means House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (who owes his speakership to JBE and a united Democratic Party) and Senate President Page Cortez (who refused to buck JBE by asking 19 of his fellow senators to sign-on to reopening our state’s economy) get to decide the fate of that bill based on who they appoint to sit on that committee.
The updated fiscal note for Tanner Magee’s bill simply says “increase.” However, based on the fiscal note of Paula Davis’s bill, it’s $336,000,000 per year. Since Rick Ward took off the expiration date, that means the new tax will last forever. If we just calculate ten years worth, Rick Ward’s amendment could cost Louisiana taxpayers $3.4 BILLION.
Don’t just sit there, do something!
Citizens for a New Louisiana is the only organization in Louisiana dedicated to reforming local government. With the help of numerous volunteers we are making some progress. However, there’s much more work we could be doing. Making a difference will take a little more than reading an article every now and then. Your community doesn’t need another spectator. They need someone willing to step onto the field and become a real part of the solution.
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