Lawmakers urged to raise state sales tax
BATON ROUGE - State lawmakers were told to face the music and raise the sales tax Wednesday. LSU professor Jim Richardson said it's one of the only ways to raise money immediately.
Lawmakers have till June to raise $700-$750 million. Otherwise Medicaid, public schools and state colleges could run out of money.
"You're talking about shutting down things and laying people off," said Richardson.
The economist recommends raising the state's four percent sales tax by as much as one percent.
This would up the price on everyday items and services like clothing, automobiles and dining out.
The state's constitution does exempt common things from sales tax like groceries, utilities, prescription drugs and gasoline. But local taxes do often apply to those things.
Other options include cutting government spending, narrowing income tax brackets and eliminating tax exemptions.
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to release his full budget plan next month. Lawmakers will likely decide on a tax increase in February or March.