With more than $1 billion in temporary taxes set to drop off the state rolls on July 1, there's no doubt that lawmakers will have to take some unpleasant votes to raise revenue before then.
In theory, they were supposed to address the looming "fiscal cliff" — which they set up when they went for a short-term fix in 2016 — this past spring. But while Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards offered some proposals, the Republicans who control the state House didn't like his and didn't offer their own, so they wound up kicking the can to next year.
Both the governor and Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, hope things will be different this year. Edwards has said he won't call the special session needed to raise revenue until there's an agreement in place beforehand, and has been holding meetings around the state aimed at solidifying a proposal, which may or may not include an extension of last year's temporary sales tax increase. And in an interview with the Associated Press, Barras suggested an agreement is in the works on his end as well. While he didn't get into specifics, Barras said his side hopes to reach a consensus by January.
Repeatedly hitting a wall of opposition from House Republicans, Gov. John Bel Edwards is try…
With the ever-nearing expiration of more than $1 billion in temporary taxes, the leader of t…
That would be good news for all, but it's way to early to take this one to the bank. Republican operatives who are already plotting to challenge Edwards for reelection in 2019 have made it clear they want to paint him as a tax-and-spender. That's harder to do when the taxing and spending is done in a bipartisan matter. Lawmakers will face voters then too, and few Republicans want a vote to increase taxes on their record.
Based on his conversations, Barras insisted that members are taking the budget challenges more seriously in the past.
"I think people are a little more willing to generally understand because the deadline's a little closer. They're a little bit more engaged, and I'm encouraged by that," he said.
Well, that's a start, even if it's an awfully late one. The real test is whether they can cut a deal on the details.