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Revenue Feast or Famine? Depends on Ingredients and the Chef

S. Lincoln

When it comes to Louisiana’s revenue famine, eating analogies abound.

“All options are on the table,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne has said.

“With respect to next year, it takes on the shape of a menu of options from which to choose,” Governor John Bel Edwards says. “And everyone will have a seat at the table.

Yet just two weeks into the new administration, it’s as if food critics are publishing reviews before they taste what they’ve ordered.

Conservative bloggers are already calling Edwards “a failure”. A new blog called “JBE Fraud” started publishing articles more than a month before the inauguration. And administration insiders have told me a number of moderate Republicans who voted for Edwards are now crawfishing away from the governor because of the announced tax-raising proposals.

Edwards seems unperturbed.

“I understand that not every individual is going to agree with the things that I believe are best for Louisiana,” the Governor said, when asked about the criticism.

Louisiana Association of Business and Industry president Stephen Waguespack last week wrote of the governor’s oft-referenced “table”, asking LABI members to consider how the turkey feels about his Thanksgiving feast invitation. Waguespack is speaking out against the proposals to curb business tax breaks, particularly the governor’s plan to rescind the entire state sales tax exemption on businesses’ utility bills.

“States that we compete with, many of them do not tax electricity. The fact that we don’t makes us look more competitive,” Waguespack said. “Every other tax you put on the economy, the more you tax it, the less people will use it, or hire it, or expand within it. That is the true nature of it.”

Edwards acknowledges higher taxes aren’t anyone’s preference, however, he says a balanced budget – like a balanced diet – requires a mix of menu items.

“All of the options aren’t going to come from the dessert end of the buffet line. Some of it’s going to be spinach and Brussels sprouts and broccoli.”