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BC, if not LA, should ban smoking at casinos

Bossier City’s long history of trying to count coup on Shreveport for once might serve it well, with an opportunity presenting itself through a blunder by the latter.

For decades, Bossier City leaders have burdened themselves with a psychological inferiority complex relating to their larger and better-known (and, to many outsiders, with a more easily-pronounceable name) neighbor across the Red River. Feeling overshadowed, they have pursued policies attempting to make their city stand out from, if not look better than, Shreveport.

Usually, it has led to undesirable consequences. Leaders chafed when no comprehensive hospital located in Bossier City, so they decided to build the government-run Bossier Medical Center. That worked out until it became apparent that Willis-Knighton Systems would come to town with an initial offer allegedly for $42 million to buy BMC, whereupon egos kicked in and city leaders refused it. WKS then built its own, drove BMC numbers steeply into the red, and in a short time the city had a fire sale of the facility, which no longer operates, for $18 million. (Two city councilors from that era, no party Jeff Darby and Democrat Bubba Williams, still serve on the Council.)


Combo bills increase tax-cutting leverage

An alliance between those that don’t want to see smaller government in Louisiana and who understand the little use the state’s Quality Jobs Program has might form over Republican state Sen. Bret Allain’s SB 1 and SB 6.

His two bills rest a just a step short of legislative completion, now ready for the House floor. SB 1 would phase out the corporate franchise tax, which few states have and, because it taxes the total worth of a corporation it depresses investment and can cause cash flow problems, if not failure, when businesses don’t turn a profit. Of those states with one, Louisiana’s is the most punitive as it has the highest rate without a cap. The bill lops off a quarter of the tax over six calendar years starting in 2025 annually when the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund has an inflow in the associated fiscal year, which occurs when corporate income and franchise taxes together exceed $600 million annually.

Present law formulaically reduces the rate whenever the amount is exceeded. At last week’s Revenue Estimating Conference meeting, economists described as likely under current law the franchise tax rate would decline significantly if current forecasts manifest into reality. Given that testimony, SB 1 should also trigger a reduction, although it’s uncertain whether that would be as much, but trends suggest it would eliminate the whole thing by the 2031 end and perhaps as early as 2029.


Election outsourcing prohibition tries third time

Louisiana’s state senators need to emulate their House counterparts and give voters the chance to declare constitutionally that the state’s elections aren’t for sale, and in timely fashion.

HB 311 by Republican state Rep. Blake Miguez would amend the Constitution to prohibit foreign governments or nongovernmental sources to fund elections. Somewhat vaguely the prohibition exists in statute, but doesn’t apply to local elections, so passage of this by voters this fall would put it beyond statute’s reach and cover all elections.

The political left opposes such matters because its forces have had success in putting the thumb on the scale by outsourcing elections. Hundreds of millions of dollars from private sources, overwhelmingly funded by big-money donors who support leftist causes, problematically either disproportionately were directed towards election units that disproportionately vote for Democrats and/or funded outreach efforts of lower ballot security that invited unscrupulous behavior.


Bonus bucks no reason to bust LA spending cap

So, Louisiana has nearly three-quarters of a billion more bucks believed to flow into state coffers through fiscal year 2025, above and beyond required diversions. This should change nothing regarding the budget the House sent to the Senate earlier this month.

The latest meeting of the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference approved a forecast for this fiscal year of $323 million more and just over $400 million more for the next. After mandatory distributions to the Budget Stabilization Fund, the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund, to pay down unfunded accrued liabilities, and to meet coastal restoration, this adds on to a previously recognized half-million dollars or so above the state’s expenditure limit, a restriction which may be breached only by two-thirds supermajorities in each legislative chamber that hasn’t come close to fruition.

As a result, the BSF will hit its maximum of just over $900 million, which can be spent by as much as a third when actual revenues undershoot forecasts provided it wasn’t tapped the previous year. The RSTF, which accrues corporate income and franchise tax collections above $600 million annually, at nearing $1.7 billion remains well below its $5 billion trigger point, where when hitting that up to a tenth a year may be used for capital projects by legislative majorities, although at any time any amount may be sucked out by supermajorities.