District 89 House Rep.-elect Richard Nelson, who was elected last month. First-time candidate, 31 years old, in Mandeville, La., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

We have a lot of hope right now in Louisiana. LSU football is 12-0, the Saints are 10-2, and nearly half of the Legislature just got replaced. Each of these represents an opportunity to do great things. While not as exciting as a National Championship or Superbowl, this new class of legislators will define Louisiana’s success or failure for a generation. Bold action is required if we want a bright future rather than one at the bottom of every ranking. The most important step to achieve this goal is to eliminate the state income tax, creating a competitive business environment and empowering local communities.

Louisiana is at a crossroads. For generations, we have depended on our natural resources and hardworking people to bankroll an inefficient state government. Now we must show the political courage to fundamentally reform policies that are hindering the state’s economic growth. The state income tax is a tax on success. Louisiana’s 6% personal and 8% corporate income tax rate force successful companies to leave Louisiana and encourage those looking to invest to go elsewhere. We must eliminate the income tax to compete with our neighbor states, especially income tax-free Texas.

This change would also give us the opportunity to address another issue: our dependency on the state to fund local priorities. Lost income tax revenue would have to be offset, and local transfers are the best place to start. Local needs are best funded with local tax dollars directly from the people they support. For example, instead of convincing representatives from New Orleans that Shreveport needs a new road, the citizens of Shreveport could simply raise the money themselves. Your tax dollars stay in your community, rather than going to the roulette wheel of state government that currently decides the winners and losers.

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Local property taxes are the best source to make up for income tax-funded state payments. Property taxes are superior to income taxes in that you can control the size of your tax bill by the size of your house, without discouraging work. Property tax bills also show exactly where each dollar goes, and rates can be customized to each locality. This shift would give citizens the freedom to set their own tax rates without having to beg for their own tax money back from the state.

In the next four years, Louisiana has the chance to make history rather than repeating it. Eliminating the state income tax and increasing local control over taxing and spending will ensure a prosperous future. Louisiana has everything we need to succeed, both on the football field and off. I am looking forward to working with my legislative colleagues to get the job done.

Richard Nelson

state representative-elect, District 89