Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lawmaker suggests that we pay for public services

A Republican state representative from St. Tammany Parish has mentioned the unmentionable: perhaps we need some kind of realistic tax base to pay for the services we expect from government.

Other lawmakers are fighting to see who can bring the biggest tax cuts to the legislature, and Gov. Bobby Jindal swears that he will veto any new taxes. But Rep. Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell) is swimming against that current. He believes we have to pay for what we want government to provide.

Under Pearson's proposal, homeowners would still have a generous tax exemption. He'd like the first $10,000 of a home's assessed value to be taxed, and the next $75,000 to be exempt.

The problem, Pearson told New Orleans CityBusiness for this article, is that the actual tax burden in Louisiana is not spread around enough. Fifty percent of the property in the state is untaxed, piling the cost of state services on a relatively small population:

"The homestead exemption, while attractive to potential homebuyers, has
drastically cut necessary funding for our local taxing bodies," he said.
“This bill is not about taxes. It’s about education. It’s about
fire protection. It’s about law enforcement. And it’s about economic
development. Every community will benefit from this measure.”

Pearson's proposal would require a constitutional amendment. That means he will have to get two-thirds of the House and Senate to agree, and then win a vote of the people. As he told CityBusiness, “I have no illusions that this will be an easy bill to sell.”

Pearson will talk about his plan at a public forum on April 6 at 6:00 P.M. in the Slidell Municipal Auditorium

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