Rep. Miguez not in favor of raising taxes to balance state’s budget

Rep. Blake Miguez talks with the Abbeville Kiwanis Club members about the state budget.

Rep. Blake Miguez is not in love with the idea that Gov. John Bel Edwards has come up with as a way to balance the state budget.
One of Gov. Edward’s plan is to increase the state’s 4-cent sales tax by a penny, and bring in $216 million more for the fiscal year that ends June 30.
In addition to the sales tax hike, Gov. Edwards also wants to increase cigarette tax by 22 cents, along with increasing business utility tax and phone taxes as well as tap the state “rainy day” fund and use money from the BP oil spill settlement to help close an immediate $750 million budget deficit at the state level.
Louisiana now has a $750 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year and a roughly $2 billion shortfall anticipated in budget that begins on July 1.
The plan also taps into $128 million from the state’s rainy day fund and $200 million to reimburse cleanup efforts following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The state would also cut some discretionary funding.
“Raising taxes is not my first, second, or even third option when seeking to fill the state’s budget shortfall,” said Edwards earlier in the week. “Unfortunately, those cuts will not be enough to bridge the enormous shortfall we face today.”
But Rep. Miguez wants to try other options before going forward with the increase in taxes. The legislators are heading to Baton Rouge on Feb. 13 for a special session.
“The governor is looking at a shortfall and his means of fixing the problem is to raise revenue, but that is a lot of money,” said Rep. Miguez at this week’s Kiwanis meeting in Abbeville. “I do not agree with that philosophy. I think we need to make as many cuts as possible that we can. We also need to look at making tax reforms. Then if there is still a shortfall, we can look at raising the revenue.”
Rep. Miguez said if he had to vote to raise a tax, he does not want it to be one that will hurt a business.
He explained to the Kiwanians that the state got into this financial problem by not being “fiscally responsible.” Administrations in the past used “one time” money to fix financial problems.
“We have a problem that needs fixing,” he said. “It is not only about fixing the problem, but it’s also about fixing the issue because there will be a shortfall every time. We need to reform this thing because I do not want to come back every year and talk about the shortfall each time. I am getting tired of talking about it (the crises). The crises was supposed to be fix last session.”

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