House Republicans reportedly considering rolling back sales tax
Some House Republicans are discussing legislation for the next session that would roll back the .45 percent sales tax passed in June because of a rosier than expected revenue forecast for the state. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris did not confirm that such legislation will be brought, but says he has heard talk of phasing out last session’s sales tax over a few years.
“If it is a reoccurring issue (the surplus revenue), that means we are extracting too much money out of taxpayer’s pockets, and we ought to look at reducing some of the tax that has been passed in the last three or four years.”
The .45 percent sales tax, that is set to expire in 2025, is estimated to generate 466 million annually.
But Edwards disagrees with efforts to roll back that sales tax, backing a plan to reinvest the additional revenue from a surging economy into state services that have suffered a decade of cuts, and just recently stabilized funding.
“We have more people working, making more money. We have more businesses making more profits, so those are good things, and that is how you make investments in things like education.”
The sales tax this fiscal year is down .55 percent from last year after the legislature let a majority of an expiring one-cent sales tax lapse.
Edwards has championed the idea of using the increased revenue to fund at least a 1,000 dollar pay raise for teachers, which he estimates would cost about 135 million dollars a year.
“Our teachers are 2,200 dollars below the southern regional average. 35 percent of our kids are being taught by teachers who are not certified, or are teaching outside of the area of their certification because we simply are not doing enough.”
Harris agrees with the need for a teacher pay raise but says the money doesn’t have to come from the increased revenue. He suggested it could be found by making cuts and redirecting cash from other areas of government.
“Just, for instance, the 84 million dollars that was misplaced in Medicaid. There are places in state government that can be adjusted.”