BY TYLER BRIDGES | TBRIDGES@THEADVOCATE.COM MAR 11, 2017 – 6:35 PM
After years of making short-term decisions that allowed them to avoid hard choices, state lawmakers have reached a crossroads: They will have to vote beginning next month on which taxes you, your neighbors and Louisiana businesses should pay as they seek to put the state’s disastrous balance sheet in order.
Lawmakers will have a potential roadmap in hand, from a task force of experts who spent a year studying Louisiana’s tax system and declared it “broken and inefficient.” The group recommended a sweeping overhaul of the state tax code that would eliminate big breaks while also reducing rates.
Analysts from the left and right have released recommendations broadly similar to those proposed by the task force. Lawmakers will have to decide whether to approve the package when the Legislature begins its annual session in April.
The state’s bad economy has contributed to Louisiana’s fiscal problems. But in many ways, the crisis is of the Legislature’s own making. Year after year, lawmakers passed budgets that didn’t balance, and they went along with former Gov. Bobby Jindal when he swept bare every fund under the state’s control.
More recently, legislators deliberately painted themselves into a corner by passing more than $1 billion of temporary taxes that expire in 2018 — an amount they will have a very hard time making up with spending cuts alone.