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12.4.05

Blanco wants to raise taxes without demanding much greater government efficiency

It’s official, Gov. Kathleen Blanco followed through with her election eve “no-no-new taxes pledge” by saying she’ll ask the Legislature to raise them $120 million. She’ll use the argument that they are acceptable because they’re “sin” taxes and for teacher’s raises, but even giving them this moniker and purpose doesn’t delete the underlying point that such raises may be unnecessary or are counterproductive without demanding more meaningful accountability out of teachers.

Republican legislators are moving closer to opposing these because they feel more efficiency can be wrung out of government before raising any taxes. Some points they should make to bolster this argument should begin with the fact that, by 2003, Louisiana was 43rd of the states and the District of Columbia in personal per capita income. Therefore, would it not be logical to expect that government spending to be in that neighborhood? Should not government spend what it can relative to the resources it can draw upon, its people’s economic activity?

Not according to the following statistics (from 2000):

  • In terms of overall per capita spending in government, Louisiana ranks 30th
  • Several things explain this higher level of spending that resources typically would bear, one being that it ranks 24th in government administration costs per capita
  • Another is its bloated retirement system (in desperate need of reform of which some may be on the way) which ranks the state 13th per capita
  • Finally, perhaps the worst offender is our misutilized health care system which ranks 4th among the states per capita (which the governor does seem to be getting a clue on)

    And how is it that Louisiana government can live so high off the hog? Because it taxes its citizenry way above their relative ability to pay; the latest 2005 figures (are you reading this, Vic Stelly?) placing Louisiana 16th in state and local tax burden.

    GOP lawmakers need to run with these figures and show they are the party of efficient government by using their numbers to block these tax increases and force Blanco to look for even greater efficiencies in government. If she’s done it for health care, why not elsewhere?
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