Louisiana Budget

LSU economist Jim Richardson, Senate President John Alario and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, from left to right, talk ahead of the meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, in Baton Rouge. The three conference members wanted to boost the state's income projections, but House Speaker Taylor Barras blocked the changes. 

It is time for us to come into the 21st century and realize we need to rewrite our tax code, and this will also mean saying yes to new taxes. I know this will be unpopular as "No New Taxes" is obviously a mantra of the rich and powerful, but we have to address the issue.

Our state of Louisiana stands at the bottom of the totem pole for schools from K-12 through the college, university, and trade school levels, and yet we are unwilling to raise taxes to pay for it. Our teachers pay is not only among the lowest in the nation, but the lowest in the Deep South, but we will not raise taxes to pay teachers a living wage.

We read occasionally of students graduating from LSU or Southern with thousands of dollars of debt to repay, but we won't raise taxes to better support trade schools, colleges or universities.

We drive on roads that need improvement and are stuck in massive traffic jams on I-10 or I-12 while realizing it takes money to improve or expand the roads and add another bridge across the Mississippi. At the same time, we know that our Legislature chose not to even offer the voters the right to vote on a 15 or 20-cent cent tax on gasoline that would have made a start on correcting the situation.

Last but not least, we applaud our president and Congress for passing a massive tax cut that predominantly benefits business and the well-to-do. However, our legislators ignore the fact that we have a national debt of $21 trillion — yes, trillion — and we will continue to add to it due to the tax breaks while the rich get richer.

Letters: Getting La. off the bottom of heap

It is time to get honest and pay for what we want and need, and that will probably mean voting out of office any and all legislators who call for no new taxes. I am in favor of paying our teachers a living wage, having a bypass highway around Baton Rouge to a new bridge across the Mississippi, south of the 50-year-old "New" Bridge. I also want to see a college education that's affordable, all of which means saying yes to new taxes.

Ray Schell

retired chemist