HD66: Greene, unopposed, advocates eliminating state income tax to fuel jobs

The key for improving Louisiana’s economy, said Republican state Rep. Hunter Greene, of Baton Rouge, is to eliminate personal income taxes.

“When you have more taxpayers with more dollars, instead of government, that creates more business and more jobs,” said Greene, who is the chairman of the tax oversight House Ways and Means committee.

Trained as an accountant and working as a lawyer, Greene is the vice chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay, which decides the construction projects state government will pursue and a member of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, which has final say on contracts and budget decisions whenever the Legislature is not in session. Greene also is a member of the State Bond Commission which makes state government’s borrowing decisions.

The Shreveport native who has lived in Baton Rouge since the mid-1980s, Greene was first elected to the Louisiana Legislature in 2005. The number of voters in his 66th district, which originally stretched east of Airline Highway from Choctaw Drive to south of Coursey Boulevard, grew dramatically during the past decade. When remapped, the 66th contracted to south of Interstate 12 past Shenandoah and Old Jefferson.

He faces no opposition on the Oct. 22 ballot and was reelected when nobody signed up to run against him. Greene is one of the leading candidates for speaker of the house, the chamber’s top job.

Greene counts as friends, with personal relationships preceeding any of their political careers, fellow Baton Rouge Republican state Reps. Franklin Foil and Erich Ponti, a competitor for the House speakership, as well as New Orleans Democratic state Rep. Neil Abramson, a Baton Rouge native.

Greene opposes tax increases and said government needs to shrink.

Greene said the 66th District needs government to focus its spending on bridges, roads and investments for targeted industries that can create jobs and opportunities for residents.

Louisiana needs to determine what services and efforts government should undertake and discard the rest. “That’s what I have advocated since taking office,” he said.

Too often, however, the budget discussions are about whether the money is available, rather than whether the service is necessary, he said. Using tax dollars not collected directly by Louisiana government doesn’t make the service free, Greene argued. Louisiana residents pay taxes to the federal government too.

But slashing services pell mell without adequate thought to the benefits is unwise too, Greene said.

For instance, government investment in public hospitals provides an economic engine, at least for the Baton Rouge area. Medical centers spur construction and investment of facilities to supply and augment the work done at the facilities, he said.

But state government needs to constantly monitor costs, review how patients are qualified for taxpayer-paid health care, he said.

“I certainly don’t think we need to expand eligibility for government programs,” he said.

HUNTER GREENE

Republican, Baton Rouge.

45, attorney.

EDUCATION: B.S., LSU; J.D., Southern University Law Center.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: State representative.

WHERE TO VOTE

Ward/Precinct and location

East Baton Rouge Parish

1-90 Episcopal High

1-103 Parklawn Park Recreation Center

3-10 Lutheran Church of Our Savior

3-16 The Runnels School

3-19 Highland Road Park Recreation Center

3-20 Ben Burge Park

3-22 Woodlawn High

3-33 Woodlawn Elementary

3-34 ITI Technical College

3-38 Woodlawn Middle

3-43 Shenandoah Elementary

3-45 Woodlawn High

3-47 Crosspoint Baptist Church

3-48 ITI Technical College

3-53 Woodlawn Middle