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PAR wants cuts before taxes

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BATON ROUGE - A "good government" group wants Louisiana's leaders to get control of spending before they raise taxes.

The Public Affairs Research (PAR) Council released a report where it lists specific cuts. A few of the proposed measures include:

- Control increased spending for state workers' health care and retirement
- Capping the TOPS college tuition program
- Not increasing the state debt by taking out unfavorable loans for building projects
- Decreasing money to local governments while allowing them to fend for themselves

Next year, the state faces a $1.9 billion deficit. Governor John Bel Edwards has suggested raising almost that entire amount through tax increases. PAR wants a significant, but lower, increase of only $700 million.

"We have to go to the practical issue that, yes, we will have to raise some revenue, and yes we will have to cut spending. And it's that second thing that our report emphasizes," said Robert Travis Scott, President of PAR.

Scott said many of the spending controls listed in the report would be painful for citizens and therefore difficult for lawmakers to support, but he said the cuts are necessary to protect the integrity and future of the state's budget.

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