Mar 212013
 

State Rep. Neil Abramson speaks during a town hall for Carrollton residents on Thursday night. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to replace state income taxes with an increased sales tax is not just a bad idea, two New Orleans lawmakers said Thursday night: it’s not even a fully formed idea yet.

At a town hall meeting for Carrollton residents Thursday evening, state Rep. Neil Abramson was joined by state Sen. J.P. Morrell, filling in for state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson who was prevented by an emergency from attending. The most important issue facing the legislature this year will be Jindal’s tax swap — both on its own merits and because it will affect the funding streams of so many state programs, they said.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell

So far, however, details are scarce, they said. Morrell said lawmakers were told they would receive the bill last week — a mere three weeks before the legislative session is to begin — but instead were given a “wish list” of taxes Jindal would like to cut and replace with sales tax.

“It was evident for those of us there at the time there was a loose understanding of how tax-revenue collection works,” Morrell said. “There was a lot of concern regarding the sales-tax emphasis hurting the poor, but there was really no coherent response how to address that.”

Abramson said he encourages people who call not to be too worried yet, because the governor’s office does not seem to have a plan, and the details keep changing. Abramson cited one type of tax originally set to be stricken from the bill, a tax on companies’ inventory. That tax funds a quarter of the annual budget for St. Charles Parish, he said, and Abramson thought that tax would be seen as so essential that the tax swap just couldn’t work at all.

Instead, the governor’s office has changed its mind and decided not to repeal the inventory tax, Abramson said.

“We don’t know exactly what it is or what it’s going to be, and it’s too early to guess,” Abramson said. “This is changing day-to-day and changing week-to-week. … As we work through the confusion, we don’t know exactly yet what we’re dealing with.”

“This issue is just so complex, when you talk about trying to remove this huge number from our budget, I don’t understand how you fix it,” Morrell said.

The vast reach of the tax proposal is also forging unusual alliances between New Orleans lawmakers and those who represent rural areas, Morrell and Abramson said. It is estimated that 40 percent of Louisianans do not pay any income tax at all because their income is too low, so for them, the “tax swap” is only a tax increase on the costs of food and other items, Morrell said — and large numbers of those people live in rural areas.

“It’s not just us; it’s everybody,” Abramson said.

In another major issue addressed Thursday night, Abramson’s name had been in the news for much of the day after he announced that the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital would be reopened by Children’s Hospital to serve children with mental illness, and Children’s Hospital issued a statement later in the day disputing that statement. Abramson did not address the Children’s Hospital statement directly, but reiterated that the lease Children’s Hospital has signed with the state for the NOAH property requires it to again offer mental-health services.

The discussion with about 30 Carrollton residents touched on other issues as well, including upcoming changes to solar-energy tax credits, the process for approving local security districts, funding for a community center in the Pigeontown area and cigarette taxes. To watch live video of the discussion with the lawmakers, see below.

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  • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    QUESTION:
    One attendee suggests adopting Karen Carter Peterson’s proposal to raise cigarette taxes. Morrell says that’s a good way to get people to quit smoking, but it doesn’t really raise a lot more money.

    COMMENT:
    Morrel says Taxes on cigarettes gets people to quit and brings no real tax revenue?

    Wait, getting people to quit means LOWER COSTS on HEALTH CARE and workers have LESS medical problems and SHOW up for work? And showing up for work means more salary for the worker who also pays taxes on his/her salary.

    And it also means a MORE QUALIFIED WORKFORCE who actually show up for work or school instead of calling in sick with one excuse after another.

    40% MAKE TOO LITTLE TO PAY TAXES:
    When 40% of the Louisiana population makes too little to be taxed, it means that the population’s (40%-who-pay-no-taxes) behavior is a big problem.

    Same with alcohol. The amount the state pays to support (via EBT, Section 8 and Housing) SINGLE MOMS whose multiple ex-husbands or ex-BF can’t keep or want a job is bankrupting the state of Louisiana as well as verifying to companies that Louisiana has an unskilled workforce.

    And to think that Jimmy’s, bars, corner grocery stores and others need a liquor license is going to help NOLA tax wise? If the state has 40% who don’t pay taxes cause they make to little, you can be sure Orleans Parish is even higher with those who don’t pay taxes cause they are too unskilled, drunk, addicted, sick, you name it, one excuse after another.. And Orleans has more bars per capita than anywhere in the nation.

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  • Diogonese

    The sky is falling…again. How can it be a bad thing if the leges have less of our money to squander? How can it be a bad thing if the gov. puts forth an innovative idea that could actually make La. more attractive for investors and people to relocate to? But no, the Dems (aka, socialists) want the status quo, offer no alternative ideas and, well, just babble on and on.

  • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    When looking at Sales Taxes or Income taxes, the Real Estate agent of this website might also want to look at the Homestead Exemption and how this $75,000 property tax credit/exemption has helped or hurt Home Ownership in Orleans Parish over the last 40-80 years.

    No state is as generous as Louisiana when it comes to property taxes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_exemption

    http://www.1stchoicetoledobend.com/taxes.asp (<– history over the years)

    As far as I know, the Homestead Exemption of $75,000 is the most generous in the United States for low income folks and in some ways encourages the poor to buy in poor neighborhoods with low house prices to avoid paying any or too high annual property taxes.

    It also allows poor folks to become landlords within their own neighborhoods and increases the ratio of renters to owners who actually live in their home. (This is because landlords want to make it easy to travel to their rental and it's best if it's only a few minutes away.)

    This is bad as it's the poor who are renting to the poor.

    Then Hurricane Katrina happened and the poor landlord left Louisiana. So now the landlord gets a $75k Homestead Exemption on the house he/she was living in and a Section 8 on any 2nd houses they were renting out.

    And, I am not too sure, but also a Section 8 on the 1st house.

    And finally, the landlord is not even living in the state of Louisiana.

    The Homestead Exemption is basically like another Section 8 and allows BLIGHT and poverty to continue as the first $75k exemption benefits the poor the most and results, indirectly, in poverty in poor areas like New Orleans.

    As far as history has shown, the Louisiana Homestead Exemption promoted "affordability" over "responsibility" in terms of home ownership.

    The Homestead Exemption also produces LOCK-IN for the POOR when the POOR really need to have FLEXIBILITY in pursuing better jobs, schools and opportunities. How can they, the poor, really improve their life when they are LOCKED-IN to the house they now own when they really need to move a lot closer to a better job or school or opportunity?

    Shouldn't everyone should look at property taxes and the homestead exemption before sales taxes or income taxes?

    Can someone attest to this?

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
    Can't stand the "Proud-to-call-New-Orleans-Home" bumper sticker types?
    Too afraid to follow me on Twitter?
    You can still bookmark me on Twitter at
    @AhContraire
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