BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Talk of “tax reform” has returned to the Louisiana Capitol, with the House and Senate’s Republican leaders making it their central push for the two-month legislative session starting Monday. But reform means different things to different people, and reaching a deal is tricky at best.
Louisiana’s majority-Republican Legislature and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards were mired in tax debates most of the last four-year term, to fill massive budget gaps left behind by former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Eventually, they reached a patchwork deal to keep the state’s budget afloat without deep slashing, balanced mainly on a temporary state sales tax hike.
That deal fell far short of the long-term tax overhaul that good government groups, tax experts and economists suggest is needed to simplify Louisiana’s exemption-riddled set of tax laws. Reams of studies point out the problems.
A new term began in 2020, with new lawmakers, new GOP legislative leaders in House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez and new tax committee chairmen. They want to revisit the debate, with a focus on business.
“Louisiana has a per capita state and local tax burden that is very competitive. But, because of the complexity of the current tax structure, we are ranked near the bottom by many tax policy organizations,” Cortez, Schexnayder and six other Republican legislative leaders said in a joint statement outlining the effort. “Businesses pay attention to these rankings.”