Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: Lawmakers hail tax cuts
- 2013 - 300 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
- December 2008 - 148 articles
- November 2008 - 147 articles
- October 2008 - 183 articles
- September 2008 - 128 articles
- August 2008 - 150 articles
- July 2008 - 143 articles
- June 2008 - 120 articles
- June 30th, 2008 (Monday) - 1 articles
- June 26th, 2008 (Thursday) - 15 articles
- June 25th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 14 articles
- June 24th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- June 19th, 2008 (Thursday) - 26 articles
- June 18th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 1 articles
- June 12th, 2008 (Thursday) - 19 articles
- June 11th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 13 articles
- June 5th, 2008 (Thursday) - 20 articles
- June 4th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 9 articles
- June 2nd, 2008 (Monday) - 1 articles
- May 2008 - 148 articles
- April 2008 - 147 articles
- March 2008 - 143 articles
- February 2008 - 146 articles
- January 2008 - 160 articles
|Lawmakers hail tax cuts|
State Sen. Neil Riser said the defining achievement of the 2008 regular legislative session was approval of some $300-million in tax cuts for state income tax filers.
"The pay raise issue right at the end kind of overshadowed everything," said Riser, R-Columbia. "But we don't want to forget that Senate Bill 87 by Buddy Shaw did pass."
Shaw's bill will roll back the state income tax rates to pre-2002 levels, when voters approved a "tax swap" known as the Stelly plan. The tax cuts take effect in 2010.
Under the Stelly Plan, voters approved the elimination of a one-cent state sales tax on food, prescription drugs and utilities while approving an income tax rate increase. Though the tax swap was intended to be revenue neutral, it created a windfall for state coffers.
Riser said repealing the 2002 income tax increases overshadowed the reduction and elimination of business taxes passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
"That's going to do more to put money back in people's pockets than anything else we did," said Riser, referring to the income tax cuts.
On another front, Riser was one of 20 members of the Legislature who signed a waiver to refuse a pay raise state lawmakers approved for themselves.
The pay raise will more than double the annual compensation for lawmakers. Though he has been under intense pressure as of late to veto the pay raise measure, Gov. Bobby Jindal has said repeatedly that he will not veto it. Jindal, though, signaled earlier this week that he is rethinking his position on the pay raise issue.
"I knew what the job paid when I ran for office," Riser said in explaining why he refused the pay hike.
State Rep. Andy Anders said passage of the income tax cuts would benefit the people living in his district.
"The middle class taxpayers -- the guys who pay the biggest part of the taxes -- will certainly see relief," Anders said. "So many of my constituents through here fall into that category."
Anders said he hoped his constituents recognized the strides the Legislature made during the Regular Session to help communities around the state, but said much of their hard work was overshadowed by the legislative pay raise.
"Everything always goes back to the pay raise," Anders said. "But the big thing I think was the Shaw (tax cut) bill for sure."
State Sen. Francis Thompson blamed what he termed "big media" for using the pay raise issue to distract Louisiana citizens from the progress the Legislature achieve in other areas, such as tax cuts and a tightening of ethics reform matters that lawmakers initially approved in a special session earlier this year.
"I understand that the media has made this the issue," Thompson said. "The public hasn't made it the issue, but big media and big press has made it the issue."
Thompson said he has voted against every legislative pay raise for 33 years. He voted for a pay hike this year because he hopes it would attract quality candidates to run for legislative seats.
Thompson suggested people should look at other areas of government, such as the judicial system, before criticizing the legislative raises as excessive.
"Name me one part or parcel of government that has not had a raise since 1980," Thompson said. "Name one person, one group associated with government that hasn't had a raise."
Thompson said legislators were one of only two groups of public servants he was aware of that always fall under public criticism when money becomes an issue.
"They get upset when the preacher gets a new car, thinking he ought to be working for nothing," Thompson said. "They think the same thing of legislators."
State Rep. Noble Ellington said the attention given to the pay raises were distracting Louisiana residents from the positive changes that came out of the Regular Session.
One of the major changes that will benefit people around the state is the 2008 budget, said Ellington, D-Winnsboro.
Ellington said that, while the budget has been balanced in previous years, past budgets relied on one-time funds to pay for recurring expenditures.
The 2009 budget will eliminate all usages of one-time monies to pay for recurring expenses.
"That is a huge issue as well and the fact that, in this state, in this session, we approved the largest tax cut in history," Ellington said. "It doesn't seem to gain near as much press as the pay raise, which amounts to about $3 million for the entire Legislature."
Ellington said many of his colleagues would be using portions of the salary increase to help fund projects and charities close to home.
"My intentions are to use at least half of the raise for either local charities or scholarships and those kinds of things," Ellington said.
Ellington said Jindal has made it more difficult to secure funding for local non-governmental organizations such as the Franklin Parish Council on Aging or the Shep's Museum.
Ellington said he was successful in securing funding for those groups but the governor has said he would veto much of the NGO funding.
Though some legislators have pledged part of their raises to help make up potential funding cuts faced by the groups in his district, Ellington said voters need to hold legislators to those pledges.
"I would hope that the people make us accountable to do that," Ellington said. "In other words, don't let me say I'm going to do it and then not do it."
Riser also pointed to decreased funding for NGOs and said he hoped funding for many community centered projects in his district survived the governor's veto pen because places like the Shep's Museum were more than just tourist attractions.
"They're a social gathering spot for any type of event," Riser said. "It might sound small, but it took $90,000 to replace the air conditioner at the old courthouse in Concordia Parish."
Funding for the various local groups now lies in the hands of Jindal, who will review and sign House Bill 1 -- the state budget.
Jindal is not expected to complete his review of the budget before next week.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|