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Another Budget Shortfall, But the Final Gubernatorial Debate

S. Lincoln: screenshot from debate broadcast

The Revenue Estimating Conference met Monday, acknowledging oil and gas prices, sales tax and corporate tax collections are far below what was anticipated.

Legislative fiscal analyst Greg Albrecht summed it up, saying, “We’re a long way from hitting the total forecast.”

The state is $370-million away, in the current fiscal year.  The biggest hole is created not by oil prices, but by corporate taxes. The explanation offered was businesses had rushing to claim tax credits before legislative reductions kicked in.

The topic was also raised in last night’s final debate between the two men vying to be the next governor. They were asked if they would raise taxes to fix the chronic shortfalls.

“I’m not raising tax rates, and I never have,” David Vitter said. “John Bel says it, but he has over and over and over again, raising business taxes, raising all sorts of taxes -- $2.3-billion this year. Why do you think he’s earned those Fs from small business groups?”

“I don’t have a plan to raise taxes on businesses. In fact, my plan all along has been to reduce the corporate tax rate from 8 percent to 5 percent,” John Bel Edwards responded.

The moderator then asked, “What about renewing the tax increases that you voted in favor of this year, which were almost entirely on businesses?”

“First of all, I dispute your characterization. They were reduction of tax giveaways,” Edwards replied.

Vitter jumped in again, saying, “John Bel has a lifetime rating of 27 percent (from LABI). When I went to school, that wasn’t just an F – I thought you got more points for putting your name right on the test. That is not just an F, that’s being hostile to small business.”

But Edwards had a response ready.

“Well, I’ll just tell you. I give a hundred percent to my wife. Senator, you ought to try it.”

It’s your decision, on Saturday.