DENHAM SPRINGS – Cuts to government services and programs – not higher taxes – should come into play to ease the state’s ongoing budget deficits, according to one local member of the state legislative delegation.
Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, said Thursday she will oppose any measure Gov. John Bel Edwards offers to raise taxes in the 2017 Legislative Session, which begins Monday.
“We have two options if we are going to manage our budget – either cut spending or raise taxes,” she said. “Louisiana already has some of the highest sales tax rates in the nation.
“I refuse to raise tax, so therefore we must cut spending and become more efficient with less waste and modest salaries,” said Hodges, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
She also criticized a recommendation by the Edwards Administration with shift the burden of taxes from personal income tax to gross revenue for businesses which make more than $1.5 million per year.
Hodges-- who has consistently opposed the Edwards fiscal recommendations since he took office a year ago -- fears the proposed tax hikes on businesses would force businesses to leave the state.
She alluded to a report by Forbes Magazine which stated that the tax hikes proposed by Edwards “are the most harmful and misguided by any governmental agency.”
The state’s budget has increased each year while the gross domestic product has shrunk, she said.
“If we have a shrinking economy, how can we afford to have a growing budget?” Hodges said. “Raising taxes is not the answer.
“Even despite the economic downturn in Louisiana, agency after agency came before the Appropriations Committee asking for more money,” she said.
Hodges stressed a need for input from constituents as the budget process continues.
“A lot is hanging in the process as we prepare to go through the upcoming fiscal session,” she said. “People need to pay attention to what is happening and get involved in the process.
“I love the quote by Winston Churchill “We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle,” Hodges said.