Opinion: Stephen Waguespack – It’s Time to “Chill -Ax”

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It’s Time to “Chill -Ax”

The school year has ended and children across Louisiana are beginning to enjoy their summer break. My three boys each have their different opinions on the best way to do so.
My oldest is soon heading off to camp and my middle one has several different lessons lined up to keep him busy with fun activities. My youngest doesn’t yet have many plans and seems to like it that way. I asked him the other day what he wanted to do this summer and after rattling off a few options, he finally said, “Dad, I think I just want to chill-ax this summer.” I think he is on to something.

The thought of just chilling out and relaxing (which I can only assume is the definition of “chill-ax”) sounds good to me too. And, if recent behavior in the Louisiana Legislature is any indication, I think everyone involved in government and the media needs to chill-ax soon too.

Consider yourself lucky if you haven’t been paying attention to the governor’s second legislative special session to raise taxes this year, and even more lucky if you have not been forced to physically be in the Capitol to witness it in person.

The 2016 Louisiana Legislature has been in session for more consecutive days than any other Legislature in Louisiana history. Throughout these five months, the budget and tax issues tackled have been divisive and controversial. These five months have felt more like five years. The nerves are getting frayed and the decorum is rapidly diminishing to an unproductive level. Good people are starting to act out of character and sharp minds are starting to show the signs of fatigue.

The demand from the administration for yet another round of new taxes no matter the cost to the economy or taxpayers is at a fever pitch. Despite a state budget that currently stands roughly $2 billion larger and containing more federal AND state dollars than last year, the articles detailing unsustainable deficits and harmful consequences flow uncontrollably out of the building.

The debates in committee or on the House and Senate floor over these new taxes don’t ever really discuss the impact it will have on Louisiana’s economy, which has lost 16,000 jobs over the last year.

When is the last time you read an article about how best to stop job losses, contain government spending, reform government entitlements or scrutinize government budget practices? In contrast, how many articles have you read lately preaching that government needs more money and anyone standing in the way of that is acting as a menace to society? I think you get the point.

Personal attacks of one’s character, credibility, intentions or morals are a dime a dozen during legislative debates on bills and the majority of press coverage that documents these important political discussions.

The administration’s goal is simply to raise billions of dollars in new taxes to fund government growth regardless of cost or impact. Rather than defending the merits of these proposals, their approach is to downplay the specifics of the tax bills, focus exclusively on the new dollars they will generate for government, and blame a host of other characters for any challenges faced by the state.

It’s soon time for the Legislature to adjourn and go back home to recharge their drained batteries. A little time off will do everyone some good. It’s time for everyone to just chill-ax.

Stephen Waguespack is President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.