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Jack Donahue Newsletter 5-1-2007 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, April 30 2007 - 8:00 pm

Dear Friends,

 

As true to form for the last two years, I have been active in the Louisiana Legislature by attending the committee and chamber meetings in Baton Rouge and reporting to you my thoughts about ongoing legislation. As another legislative session begins, I will continue to provide you with my views on needed legislation as well as an outline of critical issues facing our state.

 

Here are two important issues that need to be addressed in this session:

ETHICS, STELLY TAX REFORM

Dear Friends,

 

As true to form for the last two years, I have been active in the Louisiana Legislature by attending the committee and chamber meetings in Baton Rouge and reporting to you my thoughts about ongoing legislation. As another legislative session begins, I will continue to provide you with my views on needed legislation as well as an outline of critical issues facing our state.

 

Here are two important issues that need to be addressed in this session:

 

ETHICS

For too many years Louisiana has been known for dishonest politicians. Our reputation for corruption is well earned, for scores of Louisiana politicians, including our former governor, have been investigated, indicted and convicted of serious crimes. Currently, there are ongoing investigations of a Louisiana congressman, the administration of the former Mayor of New Orleans, the largest public school system in the state, and the 24th Judicial District Court, just to name a few. State legislators have not been immune from these ethical dilemmas, as several have been convicted of grave crimes, just in the past few years.

 

What can we do to deal with this problem and our horrible image? Louisiana needs to become the national model for reform by requiring financial disclosure by legislators and legislative candidates. The public should know if legislators are benefiting from their public service and potential conflicts of interest need to be exposed. In addition, legislators should not be allowed to enter into contracts with state government entities. These reforms will improve not only transparency in state government, but also public trust in our elected officials.

 

Ethical reforms should not end with improved disclosure. Louisiana also needs to enhance our state ethics administration by creating a full time ethics administrator who is well funded and truly independent. In addition, lobbyists should be required to give more frequent and extensive disclosure reports to the public to expose any potential conflicts of interest and business dealings with legislators. Finally, any state government employees or average taxpaying citizens who come forward to report potential ethical misdeeds or crimes need to be given full whistleblower protection by state government. Such a step will encourage more people to come forward and report wrongdoing.

 

STELLY TAX REFORM

Back in 2002, the Stelly Tax was passed as a supposedly “revenue neutral” form of tax reform. The initial plan eliminated Louisiana's four-cent sales tax on utilities and groceries, while raising the state income tax for middle to upper income taxpayers.

 

The Stelly plan removed state tax deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and medical procedures. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Stelly Tax was anything but revenue neutral.

 

Independent reports show that the tax has increased revenue to state government by at least $100 million. This is tax revenue coming from the pockets of hard working Louisiana taxpayers, and going into the "black hole" of state government, feeding a monster that is already too large and has tripled in the last 12 years.

 

The best scenario would be for this tax increase to be completely rescinded, but at the very least, some changes should be made to the plan which will give taxpayers the ability to deduct mortgage interest payments and charitable donations on their state taxes.

 

I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. I can be reached at (985) 612-1034 or via e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

Sincerely yours,

 


Jack Donahue, Candidate for LA State Senate, District 11