Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards may be a breath of fresh air for tax justice advocatesin Louisiana this upcoming legislative session.
Gov. Bobby Jindal prioritized policies aligned with his no new taxes pledge rather than meeting the needs of Louisianans. The outgoing governor even introduced a losing proposal that would have eliminated the state’s income tax and replaced the revenue with a broader sales tax.
But hope springs eternal for fundamental and thoughtful tax reform as way to help close the state’s projected budget gap of $370 million for the current fiscal year and a more than $1 billion budget gap for next year. The optimism for revenue raising tax reform is possible thanks to the Gov. Elect’s appointment of former Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne as the state’s commissioner of administration (a position that is equivalent to chief budget officer). Dardenne was the architect of revenue-raising tax reform enacted but later repealed) in the early 2000s. That package lowered sales taxes and increased the state’s reliance on income taxes.
Another bright spot--last week the governor-elect called for doubling the state EITC as part of his commitment to reduce poverty in the Pelican State. We’ll be closely following the tax debate in Louisiana in the new year.