Budget 101: Balancing the Stool

Jan 19, 2017

“The best thing you can do for a stable funding for government is to have a well-balanced stool.”

But when your budget – your stool -- doesn’t balance, what do you do? 


You can make the seat smaller by cutting spending. State Representative Larry Bagley (R-Stonewall) is candid about that.

“Cuts are easier for us politically,” Bagley said, during a recent House Appropriations Committee meeting.

But Louisiana has been cutting, and now the seat is more like a perch.

We’ve also tried raising revenue – making some legs longer. Meanwhile, other legs fell short.

This spring, the Legislature is going to be asked to reform the state tax structure – to, in essence, build a better stool.

“Any revenue system needs to be fair, simple, and competitive with other states,” says Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson, who heads the Tax Structure Task Force. “Most importantly, it needs to be stable over the long run.”

They’re looking at repairing the current stool, by evening out the legs.

“Based upon our existing structure, the Task Force is recommending you’re closer to having 33% from sales tax, 33% from individual tax, and the remaining third of the budget coming from other areas, including mineral revenues.”

But Representative Julie Stokes (R-Kenner), who is also a CPA, thinks the state should look at a four-legged stool for the greatest stability.

“Your legs are property tax – which we don’t embrace; income tax; corporate tax – which we clearly don’t embrace; and sales tax – which we’re overly reliant on it.”  

If lawmakers can’t agree on tax reforms during the regular session, the Governor has said a constitutional convention may be needed -- in other words, build a brand new stool