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LABI, BRAC lay out priorities for third special session


June 11, 2018
By CAITIE BURKES
Originally Posted on Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

For the business community, it’s well past time to put the state budget to bed, where they hope it will sleep undisturbed for the next year.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, in particular, have a sharper focus for this third special session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards, which is scheduled to last June 18-27.

LABI President Stephen Waguespack says his organization has implored the Legislature and the Edwards administration to “be clearer with business inputs,” urging state leaders to lower business utility taxes.

“The taxes on business utilities and manufacturing equipments are disturbing, and we encourage lawmakers to tread carefully,” Waguespack says. “We’ve already talked with the Legislature and Gov. Edwards’ administration about limiting utility taxes to 2 percent, and we think we have a loose agreement on that piece.”

Whether lawmakers decide to renew the one-third or one-half the fifth penny sales tax is immaterial, Waguespack says, as businesses will pay for 48% of either tax regardless.

BRAC, meanwhile, is concerned with the budget as far as higher education, health care, K-12 education and economic development are concerned—all of which will directly affect the Baton Rouge area economy, says president and CEO Adam Knapp.

To preserve all sectors, Knapp says BRAC will continue its support of “the necessity of revenue measures” as a key priority this session. Then, he says it’s time to revamp the entire system.

“After they achieve a revenue and budget resolution in 2018, we remain steadfastly supportive of the need for a limited constitutional convention in 2020 to revise our tax and spending structure for Louisiana’s state and local governments,” Knapp says.