LA Sales Tax Proposal Draws Strong Opposition

Jun 3, 2021

Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

LA SALES TAX OPPOSITION — In 2018 Louisiana lawmakers passed a less than half-cent (0.45%) sales tax to stabilize state finances. At the time the state was facing budget shortfalls and supporters of the bill pledged  the  tax hike  would be temporary  so lawmakers could work on a larger tax overhaul.  Three years later, Republican state Senate leaders instead are proposing to keep the tax on the books permanently and steer the dollars to the $15 billion  backlog of road and bridge work.  During a Senate Finance Committee hearing yesterday. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing yesterday Port Allen Republican Senator Rick Ward explained the reasoning behind the proposed change.

"There's no way we're going to be able to compete not even around the country, just with the states in the Gulf South if we don't do something." Sen. Rick Ward (R) Port Allen, LA

"We fixed our budget, we are on a good path," Ward said. "But now we need a new committment, we need to fix our roads and fix our bridges.  There's no way we're going to be able to compete not even around the country, just with the states in the Gulf South if we don't do something."

State Senator Rick Ward (R) of Port Allen, LA before the Senate Finance Committee hearing 06.02.21.
Credit Courtesy: La. Senate Video Archives

Although some committee members voiced opposition to HB514,  citing anticipated federal infrastructure dollars from Congress, the vote came out  7-4 in favor  to  send the proposal to the full Senate for debate.  However,  the House's Conservative Caucus released a statement calling the Senate proposal irresponsible.   The caucus includes 41 GOP lawmakers and their opposition could doom the proposal’s chance of passage as the bill requires a two-thirds vote.

The temporary sales tax is set to expire in 2025.