Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Barfield: Business loopholes sap tax revenue; Higher education on the chopping block; Mental health conditions going untreated and; Male professors paid significantly more than their female counterparts

Barfield: Business loopholes sap tax revenue

Many of the largest and most profitable companies doing business in Louisiana are paying no corporate income tax due to loopholes and tax breaks, according to a review by the Department of Revenue. As The Associated Press reports,  Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield found that only one-fourth of the state’s largest companies pay corporate income tax.


To avoid corporate taxes, companies doing business in multiple states can move money around subsidiaries, to shift profits to states with lower tax rates and expenses to states with higher tax rates. They can create new companies that can sell goods and services back to their other companies.


Rep. Julie Stokes of Kenner and Sen. Robert Adley of Benton have filed bills that would make it harder for companies to shirk their tax burden in Louisiana.


One of Stokes’ proposals would switch Louisiana’s tax reporting system for businesses to a “combined reporting” method used in about half of states. It would require multistate corporations to add up their profits from all subsidiary companies into a single report, even if those businesses are spread across several states. The change would make it harder for companies to move profits to lower-tax states to avoid paying corporate taxes.


Higher education on the chopping block

College leaders pleaded their case Wednesday before the House Appropriations Committee in attempts to stave off what could be devastating cuts to the state’s system. Melinda Deslatte reports that colleges are facing a worst-case scenario of an 82 percent reduction in funding – around $600 million – which could force some campuses to close.


“A budget cut of this magnitude just changes the whole narrative. You just can’t do it,” Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo told the House Appropriations Committee. He said with the worst-case cuts, “several of our institutions would not be viable.”


To help mitigate the cuts, colleges are asking for authority to set their own tuition rates without a supermajority support from the Legislature.  The Advocate reports that LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander warned committee members that every Louisiana parish would be affected by the cuts, as the LSU Ag Center would be forced to close. He said top faculty members are already being poached by universities in other states.


Mental health conditions going untreated

Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog reports that more than a half-million adults seeking treatment for serious mental health conditions could not find it due to a lack of resources and being ineligible for Medicaid. A study by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) found an estimated 568,886 American adults who were diagnosed with a serious mental illness, serious psychological stress or substance use disorder at the start of last year lived in one of the 24 states (including Louisiana) that have chosen not to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults.


An AMHCA report published last year estimated that 6.7 million uninsured adults with serious mental health conditions would have been eligible for Medicaid if all 50 states had expanded Medicaid eligibility as contemplated by the ACA. The report said 4 million of those 6.7 million lived in states that did not expand Medicaid.


Male professors paid significantly more than their female counterparts

Male professors at LSU’s flagship campus are paid an average of $17,000 more per year than their female colleagues, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education. Tulane University’s pay disparity is slightly lower at $12,000. As reports:


In 2013, the seven largest four-year institutions in New Orleans paid male professors a higher average nine-month-equivalent salary than female professors. Only Our Lady of Holy Cross College paid female professors more on average ($51,003) than male professors ($47,502). Of the others, Loyola came closest to bridging the gender pay gap in 2013, with male professors earning $107,298, only around $500 more than female professors, who earn $106,794.


Number of the Day

18,427: The number of people in Louisiana with serious mental health conditions eligible for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (Source: Pew Charitable Trusts)