Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Coalition restates importance of budget principles to Louisiana legislature

by BIZ Magazine

BATON ROUGE – A coalition of groups and trade associations has sent a second letter to the Louisiana Legislature regarding the development of the state budget.

The coalition consists of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), Louisiana Committee for a Conservative Majority (LCCM), Louisiana Family Forum, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Pelican Institute. You can read the full letter below or see the PDF version attached.

“Earlier this month, a coalition of organizations joined together to present a set of principles by which lawmakers should abide as they attempt to reach agreement over the FY24 state budget as well as the FY22 Surplus and FY23 Excess funds currently available.

As the budget process has moved forward, the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference has recognized additional revenue, and determination of the appropriate calculation of the state’s expenditure limit has begun. These are important factors that should be taken into consideration, and the coalition wishes to speak again on these matters and respond to some misinformation.

First, we affirm the core principles expressed in our initial statement:

  • Avoid exceeding the expenditure limit to grow government.
  • Fully fund the Rainy-Day Fund to save for the future and hit revenue triggers to lower individual income and corporate franchise taxes as promised.
  • Pay down long-term debt to free up future budget resources and invest in our state workers’ retirements.
  • Ensure spending of one-time surplus and excess revenues are on genuinely shovel-ready transportation and infrastructure projects.

We remain committed to these principles. The state has a historic opportunity to set a responsible fiscal course, provide promised tax relief to grow the economy and reverse the outmigration of our citizens, fund infrastructure needs, and save wisely for the future.

While lawmakers will decide the details and specifics, it is possible to pass a budget that funds significant infrastructure investments now and in the future, provides a state-funded teacher pay raise, and pays down retirement debt, all while staying under the expenditure limit.

This coalition fully supports making appropriate investments in our state’s infrastructure. Roads, bridges, water systems, and other infrastructure needs are critical to our state’s future. However, a consensus among experts (many of whom are members of some of the coalition organizations) is clear: attempting to rush spending on the magnitude of projects represented by a cap-busting budget would drive up prices substantially due to workforce and material constraints. Furthermore, especially when combined with current federal government projects, these actions would largely push execution of projects that could be done to out-of-state operations instead of to our local contractors. A more responsible approach is to set money aside for future shovel-ready projects to be accomplished at less cost later.

It is also worth noting the expenditures already funded and in progress through a combination of federal and state taxpayer dollars, just in the last two fiscal years, totals nearly $3 billion, above and beyond the annual operation appropriation (and related federal funds) to the Department of Transportation and Development.

This coalition renews its call for the Louisiana Legislature to apply these principles in the creation and adoption of a responsible budget, while giving taxpayers the tax relief they are anticipating. This will set our state on a path toward a solid fiscal future, creating a foundation of economic growth and prosperity for all Louisianans.”

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