The Daily Review/Jaclyn Breaux
State Sen. Bret Allain speaks Monday to the St. Mary Industrial Group.
Senator: State tax changes are needed
State Sen. Bret Allain thinks it’s time to change the way Louisiana people are taxed.
Allain, R-Franklin, spoke to members of the St. Mary Industrial Group on Monday at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City. Allain qualified to run for a third Senate term and is unopposed, meaning he’ll return to the Louisiana Senate, where he is the vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
“The tax structure in this state, along with several other things, I think needs to be fixed,” he said Monday.
Allain targeted the practice of taxing local people to raise state revenue, some of which is then returned to local governments.
“We collected to send back to local governments almost $5 billion, maybe $6 billion when you consider the MFP,” Allain said. “That’s way too much.”
The MFP is the Minimum Foundation Program, the main state funding mechanism for local public education.
Allain traced the local-to-state-to-local system to the Kingfish.
“The idea at the time, at least during Huey Long, and that has continued on to the next, was, let’s make local government come to Baton Rouge and ‘kiss the ring’ for the money,” Allain said. “I just think the whole philosophy of that is wrong.”
Allain would prefer not to see local funds going through the state. He believes that local funds should be appropriated and spent locally.
His solution would be to have a constitutional convention. This would be an assembly of delegates or representatives of the state gathered for the purpose of framing or amending the existing system.
“Let’s present to the people a holistic plan,” Allain said. “The way it works is two-thirds of each body approves the calling and dictates which topics to discuss. Once the constitutional convention produces a product, it has to go to the voters for ratification, so [voters] have the last say on it,” Allain said.
“There are a lot of things that need to be changed and over the last eight years, we have tried to Band-Aid and change little pieces here and there, and I just don’t think it’s a holistic plan,” Allain said.
“The confidence in the Legislature because of it is, I think, a little bit lower than it needs to be. But I think if we produce a plan that everyone can get behind, we can change the tax structure.”
Allain said his time on Senate Finance is spent “trying to figure out a $32 billion budget.” About $10 billion comes from state revenue, and the rest comes from the federal government.
“I think we will be declaring somewhere around a $250-300 million budget surplus, which means we took that much more in than we gave,” Allain said.
The state was able to give an increase to higher education and councils on aging, and provide $100 million toward teacher pay raises in the last session.
“All in all, I think we did a pretty good job,” Allain said. “The budget seems to be in pretty good shape. I think we have enough money to do everything we need to do, and I would be opposed to any additional taxes or revenues.”