Speaker Taylor Barras conceded that the Louisiana House will not raise enough revenue before the ongoing regular session ends in two weeks to fill a looming budget deficit.
This will force legislators to return in a special session to solve the problem, he acknowledged.
“It sounds like that’s where we’re heading,” Barras, R-New Iberia, said in an interview with three reporters after the session ended late Wednesday night.
The coming budget deficit will be caused by the expiration of $1.3 billion in temporary taxes on July 1, 2018. Inside the State Capitol it’s known as the “fiscal cliff.” Legislators have a year to stave off the cliff, but not doing it now will mean a special session since they cannot raise taxes during next year’s regular session.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has been predicting that lawmakers won’t find a way to solve the problem during the current regular session.
With the legislative session nearing its end, the Republican majority in the state House has…
Barras said that any plans to generate more revenue now face too much resistance from the public.
“Outside this building,” he said, referring to the State Capitol, “no one wants a tax passed," adding that the resistance “is getting stronger and stronger.” He noted that most local tax measures on the ballot recently were defeated.
“I don’t see any large revenue-raising bills left,” Barras said, referring to what remains on the House legislative calendar. “I don’t see votes for that.”
Barras also said he believes that any solution to the fiscal cliff will include a renewal of all or a portion of the 1-cent sales tax that lawmakers approved a year ago. That approval came with the proviso that it vanish on July 1 next year.
The Advocate reported four weeks ago that more and more lawmakers were concluding that keeping at least a portion of that increase was likely. The extra penny generates about $880 million per year, which would be a big chunk of the money needed to address the $1.3 billion fiscal cliff.
Nobody in the State Capitol says they want to renew a temporary 1-cent increase in the sales…
The news article also reported that the 1-cent increase has generated few complaints from constituents for legislators, even though it gives Louisiana the highest combined local-state sales tax rate at an average 10 percent.
“I don’t think you can get around sales taxes,” Barras said Wednesday night.
Check back with The Advocate later today for updates.