Dardenne: Raising taxes among options to fix Louisiana's budget crisis

Dardenne: Raising taxes among options to fix Louisiana's budget crisis
Published: Dec. 30, 2015 at 7:39 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2015 at 9:15 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Even before taking office, Governor-elect John Bel Edwards is already having to go back on what he said while running for Governor.

When Edwards was a candidate two months ago, he said raising taxes was not the way to go to fix the state's budget crisis.

"I don't believe we need to raise taxes in order to meet our challenges," he said.

On Wednesday morning, Edwards' newly appointed Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne, announced raising taxes along with other options are actually now on the table.

"The situation is more dire than we thought it was and I wanted to take this opportunity to tell the people of Louisiana exactly how dire the situation is," Dardenne said. "It's going to be very difficult to do without having some sources of new revenue. We're going to continue to cut where we can cut, but the message here today is that we have a dramatic shortfall more so than everyone had been led to believe and right now there's no indication that things are going to turn around in the remaining six months of the year."

Dardenne said he couldn't explain the sudden change in figures but that the shortfall for the remaining part of this fiscal year is closer to $700 to $750 million compared to a previous figure of around $400 million. The Edwards' team suggests that if oil prices and tax collections continue to d rop or slow, Louisiana will be in a $1.9 billion hole for the following fiscal year.

Though when Edwards was pressed while running for governor if raising taxes was an option, he continued to say no.

"I'm not going to look at raising taxes," he said in October. "We are going to tackle the tax giveaways. The tax expenditures and we're going to reduce that spending through the tax code."

His team now said that Edwards didn't have all of the facts when he previously made those statements.

The Edwards administration admitted Wednesday that taxes on gasoline and sales, two taxes that affect a great deal of Louisianans, could see an increase.

Commissioner Dardenne refused to provide specifics, saying that it's important to look at all available measures, including "revenue options" which often refer to tax increases.

"You could say that we have put all options on the table," he said. "That obviously includes revenue options."

Governor Jindal issued a response Wednesday about Dardenne's news conference:

"The state budget is balanced, like it has been every year for eight years in a row. We made a choice not to raise taxes for eight years and instead to cut the size of government in order to balance the budget. Raising taxes hurts job creators and small businesses.  Raising taxes would be an easy way for government to be flush with money again, but we have always believed and continue to believe that raising taxes is the wrong approach for our economy."

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