The legislative session is a less than a month away and two topics look like they’ll be the hot button issues that dominate the early discussions. One of those, teacher and school support personnel pay raises, comes with an estimated $135 million price tag. publisher Jeremy Alford says figuring out how to pay for it could be a struggle.

“We’ve seen other states tap dance around this issue, and that’s resulted in teacher strikes. We’ve seen neighboring states react differently and push increases through the Capitol.”

The proposal would raise teacher pay by 1,000 dollars, and support personnel pay by 500 dollars.

The other topic on many lawmakers lips is the prospect of legalizing sports betting in Louisiana. Last year the US Supreme Court OK’d the practice for all states, but a last second effort to authorize it here fell flat. Alford says the same groups that stalled last year’s effort are likely to be back again…

“Groups such as religious advocacy organizations came forward with concerns that it was too far of an expansion, too much of an expansion. So, the issue is probably going to be kicked around again.”

Neighboring Mississippi has legalized sports betting, and Louisiana casinos say they fear they are losing visitors as a result.

But Alford says after the session kicks into full gear and the first budget proposals come out, the conversation is likely to pivot to tax questions, as odd numbered years allow lawmakers to talk tax in a regular session. The analyst says expect those revenue questions to take center stage…

“There is a number of sales tax questions, a temporary sales tax that some lawmakers would like to see come off earlier. There is a push for centralized sale tax collection by small business groups. There is a coming debate over the industrial tax exemption.”

The session begins at noon on April 8th.

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