Retired civil servant Rob Heffner attempted April 25 to frame our efforts at comprehensive tax reform as an “us vs. them” scenario. I guess that’s no surprise in today’s political climate. Today, division is rewarded over cooperation, and everything gets boiled down to a “culture war” or “class warfare” argument that doesn’t advance the public policy of our state or nation.
Since Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, and I were both named in the letter, I feel it imperative to once again tell the people of Louisiana why our tax reform package is vital to growing Louisiana’s economy. He and I have worked with stakeholders all across the state and with the Department of Revenue to craft a tax plan that simplifies our code for citizens and businesses alike.
Lowering overall rates while removing certain deductions like the one for federal income tax will provide much needed stability to revenue projections for the state and predictability for companies looking to make investments.
The truth of the matter is I asked the Department of Revenue to make each one of the brackets revenue neutral. This is the way the numbers fell and I accepted that.
Simply put, our complicated tax code is standing in the way of real progress for Louisiana’s economy. Census data just released shows Louisiana with one of the slowest population growth rates in the country at 2.7%, and I believe a major factor in that is our tax structure. Louisiana is not that much different from South Carolina (10.7% growth), Georgia (10.6% growth), or Tennessee (8.9% growth), yet we continue to lag behind.
The process to reform Louisiana’s tax structure is far from over. There are still legislative committees, floor votes, and ultimately conference committees that will decide what our future tax structure will look like. Some of these changes will require voter approval at a later date.
We humbly ask that you judge us by the intent of this package and not by “straw man” arguments designed to keep Louisiana at the back of the pack. Voters stress to me all the time that they want bipartisanship and compromise. This package is exactly that: Republicans, Democrats, and independent groups support large parts of these reforms.
In today’s political climate where seemingly everything is a fight, can’t we just get behind an effort that has broad agreement across the political spectrum for the good of Louisiana?
state senator and chairman, Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee