Not Everybunny Supports Tax Reform

Apr 14, 2017

As is usual early in a legislative session, it’s been an abbreviated week for lawmakers.

“Let me wish each of you a very blessed Easter,” Senate President John Alario said Wednesday morning, as the upper chamber concluded its work for the week.

“Happy Easter to all of you, and we will hit the ground running again on Monday,” House Speaker Taylor Barras said when dismissing the lower chamber on Thursday.

Despite those well-wishes for this coming weekend, there’s a whole lot of discord fulminating.

During Monday’s session opening, Governor John Bel Edwards charged lawmakers with the task of revamping Louisiana’s tax system.

“Our corporate tax structure is broken,” he told legislators. “It is far too unstable, and is laden with credits, exemptions, and deductions that put too much of the burden of funding critical state services on individuals in the middle class.”

Now a new Super PAC called “Truth in Politics” -- backed by Cajun Contractors’ CEO Lane Grigsby -- has launched its campaign to thwart the tax reform effort:

“Our economy is hurting. One reason? John Bel Edwards’ tax increases. Reject John Bel Edwards’ plan and stand strong against higher taxes,” the group’s first video ad urges.

And while the House Ways and Means Committee spent Tuesday and Wednesday holding intial hearings on several dozen of the more than one hundred tax reform bills, there’s apparently a scheme to rebuff the tax-remodeling attempt. Oil City Republican Jim Morris spoke extensively about “down-sizing government” before urging fellow Republican Kenny Havard to explore that path, in lieu of continuing with Havard’s tax reform bills.

“Have you spent any time with the Appropriations Committee to see if there’s some way we can actually work to not to try to do a whole tax restructuring?” Morris asked.

He was referring to Appropriations chair Cameron Henry, House Republican Caucus chair Lance Harris, and others on the Appropriations Committee who have steadily opposed the Democratic governor’s proposals by insisting on a “cuts-only” approach to the state’s fiscal problems.