Perhaps it is paradoxical for someone to write this letter who has spent most of his professional life attempting to use federal and Louisiana laws to reduce taxes, but the current state budget crisis compels me to do so.
We are all hearing daily volumes of information about the huge deficit in the state budget for the next year. What we are not hearing about is a concrete plan from either the executive or legislative branches of our state government that will permanently fix our problem.
We are all guilty of occasional waste in our financial spending, in our personal lives, in our businesses and in the operations of our government. But this time, there is no magic cut that will eliminate the impending doom without irrevocable harm to Louisiana’s infrastructure.
I would suggest to our leadership that, while not politically popular, a large part of the solution is simple. The removal of the Stelly Plan has cost the state budget an estimated $700 million-plus in annual revenues. Corporate income taxes have fallen over $600 million in recent years.
Quite simply, without addressing the revenue side of the budget equation, it cannot be permanently fixed. None of us likes to pay taxes, and in fact, I have never heard one person complain that they didn’t pay enough taxes; however, this problem cannot be fixed without doing so. I urge our leadership to lead us as statesmen, not politicians, in developing a plan that may be politically difficult but is the right thing to do.
Ralph Brookner Bender