Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rule change could bring sunshine to business incentives
It could soon become much easier to track how much money state and local governments spend each year on business incentives and corporate subsidies. The Government Accounting Standards Board, which sets the rules for how governments reports their revenues and expenses, is drafting a rule change to its Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that will require governments to publish an annual accounting of revenue lost to economic development subsidies. Governments that are not in compliance with the GAAP put their credit ratings at risk which in turn can affect bond ratings.

Greg LeRoy at Good Jobs First, which has spent years tracking corporate subsidies, says it’s “hard to overstate the significance of the news. He has the scoop:

For all the cost-benefit debates featuring inflated ripple-effect claims that beg the more fundamental issue of cause and effect, we have always said: the only thing that can be said for sure is that development subsidies are very expensive, so costly that they undermine funding for public goods that benefit all employers. Therefore, at the very least, taxpayers have the right to know the exact price of every deal and every program (and the outcome of every company-specific deal). GASB now appears to be moving to make some form of standardized disclosure of tax-break costs a reality for reporting periods after December 15, 2015 (and sooner on a voluntary basis).

Read more from LBP on tax exemption reform.


Public defenders lacking for youth offenders
Public defender offices in 19 parishes could be insolvent as early as July, writes Meredith Angelson, a staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center in New Orleans. But the news is even worse for incarcerated children, who have long been underrepresented by public defenders because of funding shortfalls. Heavy case loads and long commutes make it difficult for many public defenders to meet with their clients, thus hampering their ability to properly advocate for their release once they have been rehabilitated.

Compromises must be made in every budget decision, but for too long those compromises have hurt the system’s youngest and most vulnerable population. Effective public defenders are crucial to the integrity of our criminal justice system, which must keep us safe and administer the law fairly to defendants. When the defendant is a child — in whose education, treatment, and successful diversion from crime we should all be invested — we have an even greater obligation to act in his best interest.


Small business program may close
A program that has helped small companies win $4.5 billion in government contracts is in danger of shutting down if Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration can’t come up with the $185,000 needed to keep it running.  TheLouisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center has been around since 1989, and helps small businesses obtain and manage federal, state and local contracts. The administration said it supports the program and will work with the legislature to find the money.

“Adam Knapp, president of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said if the program closed in February, Louisiana will be the only state not offering the small business services. ‘For the incredible good that PTAC does, I believe that allowing this program to expire would represent a significant and terribly short-sighted lost opportunity for Louisiana.’”


Plan to deliver a skilled workforce in Louisiana approved
A six-year plan aimed at ensuring Louisiana has the skilled workers needed to fill the new manufacturing jobs won approval Wednesday by the board of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.“Our Louisiana 2020: Building the Workforce of Tomorrow” lays out ambitious goals:

“Doubling the number of graduates from the 13 schools in the system to 40,000 annually; doubling the average earnings of each graduating class to $1.5 billion; quadrupling student transfers to four-year universities to 10,000 annually; doubling the number of students served to 325,000 annually; quadrupling partnerships with business and industry to 1,000 annually; and doubling foundation assets to $50 million.”

The Baton Rouge Business Report says there is $80 billion of new plant construction in Louisiana that will require 83,600 skilled workers.

Number of the Day:
The percentage increase in tax exemptions granted by Louisiana from 2001 – 2011. (Source:Louisiana Budget Project)