South Bossier business owners and elected officials stepped into the shoes of a state legislator today to find out what’s happening at the state capital.
“I’m here to walk you through what I’m going through in Baton Rouge,” State Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton) told the crowd of more than 40 people Wednesday afternoon. “It’s unprecedented the amount of sessions that we have. The reason is because the Governor wants all or nothing. He wants every tax dollar he can get from you.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards has called for a third special session, a 10-day gathering to start Monday, aimed at replacing some expiring taxes and avoiding deep budget cuts. Only sales taxes can be considered during this session. Louisiana is expected to bring in $648 million less in the budget year starting July 1. Special sessions called in February and May failed to close the gap.
Horton said she’s in favor of a budget that Louisiana’s private sector can support without raising taxes.
“Louisiana’s budget can no longer be supported,” she said. “Our gross domestic product is at an all-time low while everyone else in the United States is at its highest. Without a strong private sector, revenue the state and local governments need wouldn’t exist.”
Significant reductions are in store for higher education, the TOPS college scholarship program, corrections, sheriffs and food stamps – unless lawmakers produce more revenue in the special session.
The legislature did approve a budget June 4, but it will make drastic cuts to the TOPS scholarship program, public universities and other state agencies. Significant reductions are also in store for higher education, corrections, sheriffs and food stamps unless lawmakers produce more revenue in the special session, according to the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
Horton said the legislature should look at revamping the Department of Health and Hospitals’ budget rather than making cuts to those programs.
“The [DHH] has a $13.6 billion a year budget with the absolute worst outcome in the nation,” she said. “More revenue is not the answer. We have more than efficient revenue, but we’ve never updated our service delivery model for the Department of Health. All we do is add to it and add to it.”
By updating it, Horton said it would give other essential programs, like TOPS, sustainable funding. Horton promised to continue being the voice of Dist. 9 in Baton Rouge and fighting for the people she represents.
“The Governor claims that he wants tax reform, but his idea of reform is to take all he can from business, industry and the middle class,” she said. “That is not my idea of tax reform. We have to stop feeding the beast.”
Horton also encouraged her constituents to download the free YourVote app in order to share their feedback on critical issues.
“It is so important that I hear from you,” she said.
The South Bossier community group meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Shady Grove Recreational Center (3949 Wayne Avenue in Bossier City) from noon to 1 p.m. Lunch is catered and costs $5.00 per person.
Organizers say their goal is to bring together men and women in our South Bossier community that want to stay informed and want to make a difference in their community.