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BATON ROUGE — As the Louisiana State Legislature continues to grapple with the devastating impact of the GOP budget disaster and the $1.6 billion deficit it created, a plan has emerged that proposes to shift part of the burden onto local governments. Under the guise of repealing the inventory tax, lawmakers are seeking to paper over holes in the state budget at the expense of small towns throughout Louisiana.

By scrapping the inventory tax, the state legislature would deprive small, local governments of vital revenue— ultimately without putting a dent in the state budget disaster. The Legislative Fiscal Office found that the initial iteration of the plan would produce zero savings in the next year, and represent an annual loss to local governments of up to $630 million. Local government leaders expressed grave reservations.

Testifying yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee, Parish President Natalie Robottom of St. John the Baptist Parish said: “At this point there’s not a comfort level on the local government side with what’s taking place today.”

Republican Bernard Broussard, Iberia Parish Councilman, warned of increased hospital costs and teacher layoffs before concluding: “It’ll effect us dramatically at a local level.”

Sheriff Mike Waguespack of Assumption Parish pushed back on the idea of locals being forced to bail out the state government. “The locals didn’t put you in this situation,” adding “I think the state is giving away the farm. They’ve really made it even more difficult for the locals to survive.” And St. Martin Parish President Guy Cormier likewise emphasized: “We find ourselves caught in a situation that we didn’t cause.”

Other leaders were even more emphatic. “St. James Parish will be shut down,” warned Tim Roussel, Parish President for St. James. “State government has a hole in their budget. To patch it with our money is to put 240 more holes in local government, all of the local governments.” He added: “I don’t believe the rest of the legislature can afford to have 244 governments almost go broke.”