Report from Louisiana: The Fiscal Cliff

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Report from Louisiana: The Fiscal Cliff

By: Pat Austin

[cap­tion id=“attachment_105668” align=“alignleft” width=“300”] Louisiana State Capital[/caption]

SHREVE­PORT – Louisiana is fac­ing a $994 mil­lion fis­cal gap if the leg­is­la­ture can’t break grid­lock in the cur­rent spe­cial ses­sion which ends Wednesday.

Expir­ing sales tax laws are pri­mar­ily the cul­prit for the short­fall but many con­tend that years of Bobby Jindal’s shell games are also partly to blame.

What­ever the cause, every­thing is now on the table for cuts: hos­pi­tals, law enforce­ment, higher edu­ca­tion, col­lege schol­ar­ships, you name it.

Repub­li­cans have a major­ity in both the House and the Sen­ate, but votes are needed from both sides to pass any kind of leg­is­la­tion at this point that will break the grid­lock that has crip­pled this session.

So far, lit­tle has been agreed upon but by the end of last week momen­tum began to pick up and the fol­low­ing bills were agreed upon by the House and moved to the Senate:

HB 3 by Rep. Frank Hoff­mann, which would require able-​bodied Med­ic­aid recip­i­ents work or vol­un­teer to keep their eli­gi­bil­ity, although there is some wig­gle room in terms of how strongly it would be enforced.

HB 2 by Rep. Tony Bacala, which aims to com­bat Med­ic­aid fraud by allow­ing the leg­isla­tive audi­tor access to recip­i­ent tax returns.

HB 27 by Rep. Pat Smith, which would imple­ment a 60-​cent-​per-​year tax for acces­si­bil­ity pro­grams for the deaf.

HB 10 by Rep. Ted James, which would increase fed­eral income tax lia­bil­ity by the amount someone’s fed­eral income tax was low­ered dur­ing 2016 or 2017 after claim­ing the fed­eral stan­dard or item­ized deduc­tion for cer­tain net dis­as­ter losses. It’s sup­posed to help flood vic­tims from the 2016 March and August floods.

It seems cer­tain that the short­fall can not be resolved with­out higher taxes which has been the cause of much grum­bling and dis­con­tent at the water cooler and there has been dis­cus­sion on who would be pay­ing those taxes.

For the sec­ond year in a row Louisiana is at the bot­tom of the list of states with sound fis­cal stability.

What­ever the final out­come, the last­ing impres­sion of this spe­cial ses­sion has been one of snip­ing, finger-​pointing, and impasse. A typ­i­cal day at the office for the legislature.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port; fol­low her on Insta­gram at patbecker25

 By:  Pat Austin

Louisiana State Capital

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana is facing a $994 million fiscal gap if the legislature can’t break gridlock in the current special session which ends Wednesday.

Expiring sales tax laws are primarily the culprit for the shortfall but many contend that years of Bobby Jindal’s shell games are also partly to blame.

Whatever the cause, everything is now on the table for cuts: hospitals, law enforcement, higher education, college scholarships, you name it.

Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, but votes are needed from both sides to pass any kind of legislation at this point that will break the gridlock that has crippled this session.

So far, little has been agreed upon but by the end of last week momentum began to pick up and the following bills were agreed upon by the House and moved to the Senate:

HB 3 by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, which would require able-bodied Medicaid recipients work or volunteer to keep their eligibility, although there is some wiggle room in terms of how strongly it would be enforced.

HB 2 by Rep. Tony Bacala, which aims to combat Medicaid fraud by allowing the legislative auditor access to recipient tax returns.

HB 27 by Rep. Pat Smith, which would implement a 60-cent-per-year tax for accessibility programs for the deaf.

HB 10 by Rep. Ted James, which would increase federal income tax liability by the amount someone’s federal income tax was lowered during 2016 or 2017 after claiming the federal standard or itemized deduction for certain net disaster losses. It’s supposed to help flood victims from the 2016 March and August floods.

It seems certain that the shortfall can not be resolved without higher taxes which has been the cause of much grumbling and discontent at the water cooler and there has been discussion on who would be paying those taxes.

For the second year in a row Louisiana is at the bottom of the list of states with sound fiscal stability.

Whatever the final outcome, the lasting impression of this special session has been one of sniping, finger-pointing, and impasse.  A typical day at the office for the legislature.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport; follow her on Instagram at patbecker25