Lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser said Tuesday he favors elimination of Louisiana’s income tax.
“I think it’s doable in redoing our tax structure,” Nungesser told the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon crowd.
Gov. Bobby Jindal floated the idea of scrapping the income tax and upping sales taxes in 2013 but abandoned the idea amid fierce opposition.
The former two-term Plaquemines Parish president also advocated the convening of a constitutional convention as the state comes up with long-term solutions to chronic budget shortfalls, like the $1.6 billion one facing the state.
“It’s probably not going to happen until the next governor,” said Nungesser, a Republican who is making his second bid for the No. 2 job in state government.
Nungesser is one of four people to announce as candidates for lieutenant governor in fall elections. Others are Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, Jefferson Parish President John Young and state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas. Young and Guillory are Republicans; Holden is a Democrat.
During his speech, Nungesser stressed his tenacity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill disaster in getting help for his parish.
“Today’s there no unemployment and a surplus every year. There’s not a street crack anywhere,” said Nungesser. “We didn’t look at who was going to get credit. We just worked hard to fix things.”
Nungesser said the state is going to get enough money from the BP disaster to fix the coast. “It’s the one shot, we will never get another chance to rebuild this coast. ... If we don’t we will be having the Grand Isle fishing tournament in Baton Rouge,” he said.
Tourism is the No. 1 priority of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Nungesser said. “But I believe the lieutenant governor can do so much more. The governor needs a partner,” he said. “On election night, I’m going to tell him I’m not running against you in four years as long as you are doing the right thing.”
If he thinks the governor is not doing right, Nungesser said he’s going “to be out there saying ‘why won’t you do the right thing.’ ”
On the tourism front, Nungesser said he will work “to fix the things that are falling apart” at state parks facilities. He said an emergency funding must be identified to fix “immediate damages,” such as bathrooms that “are in horrible shape.” Then, a longer-term plan for repair and maintenance must be put in place. He said it won’t be easy because of the state financial crisis. He suggested exploring public-private partnerships to help defray some of the costs.
Nungesser also said that local tourism people need to be given a “seat at the table” as decisions are made on investment of tourism dollars in their areas.
“I’m not an expert in tourism but the people around this state are so passionate and have so many great ideas, we are going to speak as a team, decide as a team,” Nungesser said.