Johns, Kleckley & Danahay speak on legislative session

A Senator, House Speaker and a Representative from the SWLA area had plenty to talk about from the budget to what's in the works to improve revenue in the future.

It was the 2012 Legislative Wrap-Up for the League of Women Voters.

House speaker Chuck Kleckley, who found himself embroiled in conflict with teachers said it was a year that brought progress and hope for children.

"If we want to create jobs, if we want to be a state that other states will look at, we need to do this," Kleckley said. "The most important thing we have to remember is this isn't about me, this isn't about anybody else this is about the children for the State of Louisiana.

On higher education, the lawmakers are disheartened to about cuts and appear determined to reverse the trend.

"I will not support any more cuts to McNeese State University," Kleckley said.

Senator Ronnie Johns predicts an effort to begin eliminating some of the state tax exemptions that hurt the state's revenue.

"Today as we stand, 85 percent of all corporate taxes are now exempt, 85 per cent," Johns said. "We have gone from about $1.2 billion five years ago in corporate taxes down to about $200 million in this year's budget. There are projections, and this boggles my mind."

Johns also said there are projections that may be in the minus column next year.

Representative Mike Danahay serves on ways and means. He said they have given away the house.

"The tax exemptions, rebates that have come through there have just been unbelievable.  We have waived hundreds of millions of dollars with the understanding that it's going to bring us jobs, create jobs in Louisiana which would bring us tax revenues from payroll and through sales tax revenues," Danahay said. "That's why we're going to have to go back and look at these exemptions and rebates. Some of these exemptions and rebates go back to the 30s and 40s."

One reform group estimates there are 441 tax breaks on items as diverse as purchases of gold bullion and Mardi Gras beads to exemptions for drilling in the Haynesville gas find.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.