ODR could be bright spot for state’s future
The state has found a way to beef up revenue without passing costs on to the public.
Well, except those who have refused to pay money to the state government.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to sign into law a bill, sponsored by Rep Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, that creates the Office of Debt Recovery (ODR). That office is expected to see funds coming in within the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
ODR will collect money owed to the state by individuals or businesses who are more than 60 days behind on payment. In an April piece on the bill published in The Advocate, Treasurer John Kennedy and Broadwater said casino winnings, tax refunds and bank accounts of debtors could be seized by the state and driver’s and hunting licenses could be withheld. Payment plans would be available for debtors, who will also face a collection fee on top of any fees owed to the government.
Apparently, many people have fallen behind on debts. According to a report by the Associated Press, Broadwater said the most recent total on delinquent accounts stands at $1.4 billion. Currently, the state has 174 agencies – and until Broadwater’s bill, no unified collection system to handle all state government debts. The attorney general’s office collects back-owed debt for 43 agencies that have contracts with them directly. But such contracts weren’t required.
$150-$200 million are expected to be recovered within five years.
Louisiana has been cutting costs and services for several years now and the ODR could not come at a better time. Perhaps this office should have been created years ago but thankfully, it will be part of the state’s future.
The public should see the benefits of the office immediately. Once ODR begins collecting debts, up to $5 million from any tax debts will be set aside for the training of new Louisiana State Police troopers. That’s incredible news considering the troopers have been under a hiring freeze for some time.
The best part about the state pursuing debts is only those who rightly owe must pay. It’s less money we have to worry about recovering through increased taxes or fees or cutting more programs and funding.
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