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Governor ‘Re-Gifts’ Plan for Fiscal Cliff

Sue Lincoln
Governor (far right) chats with (L to R) Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project, Revenue Secretary Kim Robinson, and CABL's Barry Erwin

With the holidays nearly upon us, Gov. John Bel Edwards presents his plan for dealing with the fiscal cliff.

“All of the proposals that I am making come from the legislatively–created task force. And in that sense, I’m proposing to the Legislature that it adopt its plan.”

Think of it as “re-gifting”, since the governor is running out of shopping days and patience while he waits for lawmakers to come up with their wish list.

Edwards met with a group from the Committee of 100, the Public Affairs Research Council, the Council for a Better Louisiana, and the Louisiana Budget Project on Monday, to offer an overview of his plan. It includes: compressing individual income tax brackets; cutting the allowance for federal excess itemized deductions by 50 percent; expanding sales tax to include services; and cleaning the remaining four pennies of sales tax, with the fifth penny going away.

When asked why he thinks lawmakers might accept this now when they’ve rejected it before, Edwards says, “The legislators’ toes weren’t dangling off the edge of the cliff yet.”

The cliff edge is imminent, with $1 billion in revenue falling off the books July 1, and the governor says in one month he’ll be telling us how hard that fall will be.

“If we don’t fix the cliff, no one is going to want to put their name on the cuts that are necessary,” he predicted. “In fact, I will tell you this, on Jan. 19, Jay Dardenne and I are going to present an executive budget proposal to the Legislature that we don’t want to put our name on!

“We don’t ever want that budget to be implemented, which is why we have to fix the problem,” he added.

Edwards says he’s hoping lawmakers commit to approving the long-term reforms in time to call a special session right after Mardi Gras, fixing the problem before the regular session begins March 12.

“It’s time that we stop looking at the options,” the governor states. “We know what the options are.”