Business group concerned as stimulus dollars start to run out

By Brandon Richards - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, La (KPLC-TV) – The state's largest business lobbying group, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), has expressed concerns over the state's fiscal situation over the next few years.

LABI says the state has spent more than $4 billion in federal stimulus dollars over the last three years.

But that money will soon run out.

LABI said that means state lawmakers will be faced with tough decisions, like whether to make deeper cuts to some state programs or raise taxes, the latter they say would not be good for the state's economic recovery.

"Some tax bills will be considered in the House," said John LeBlanc, Director of Taxation and Finance for LABI. "It's because the federal stimulus dollars are running out. They were budgeting these dollars. Now they have run out, so now the day of reckoning has [arrived]."

State lawmakers like State Rep. Chuck Kleckley say raising taxes won't even be an option.

"If you want to renew a fee, just a common fee, that's a challenge in the House," said Kleckley. "I don't see any taxes coming out of the session."

Still, it remains unclear what lawmakers will ultimately decide to do this year, not to mention in the years to come.

State revenue is projected to grow over the next few years.

The big question is whether that will be enough to make up for the loss of federal stimulus.

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