Let’s have an honest conversation about our state’s status. It is in crisis.
For decades, we have seen many short-term fixes utilized in state government. Ultimately, these fixes could be equated to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. True structural reform has not happened. And it shows.
We have a budget congested with numerous dedicated funds and extravagant tax credits, such as the film tax credit, that leaves higher education and health care vulnerable. Hardworking Louisianans and small businesses file taxes under one of the most complicated state tax systems in the nation. And the state has thousands of contracts not being regularly reviewed.
The House Republican delegation is working to solve these structural problems in a pragmatic way. During the special session, both the House and the Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 11. This resolution creates a task force that will make recommendations for long-term budgeting changes and suggest ways to modernize the state’s tax laws. This group must report its findings to the Legislature this year.
This task force will be made up of professionals who will make nonpartisan recommendations to lawmakers. This is an important first step that will initiate a big picture conversation regarding where our state should be headed for generations to come.
During the special session, House Speaker Taylor Barras, other House leaders and I met with Gov. John Bel Edwards concerning reforms we would like to implement. We all agreed to come to the table regarding these issues after we tackled the deficit in the special session. The House Republicans worked with him and adopted many of his recommendations. Our delegation also led the effort to get the state’s business groups to the table to discuss what they could do to help plug the deficit.
Did Gov. Edwards get everything he wanted? No. We successfully fought against increasing the personal and corporate income tax rates and stopped the doubling of the earned income tax credit because we believed these recommendations would cause harm to working families and small businesses. And, did we get everything we wanted? Of course not.
But, that doesn’t mean we have a culture of Washington, D.C., politics. It means we worked together to solve a historic deficit by finding common ground. In the current regular session, we look forward to establishing more common ground with our colleagues and Gov. Edwards. Together we can enact reforms, launching a much-needed Renaissance that will transform Louisiana for generations.
State Rep. Lance Harris
chairman, House Republican delegation