Sept. 7: Tax task force winds down

Sept. 7: Tax task force winds down

The panel charged with recommending ways to fix Louisiana’s broken tax structure is nearing the end of its work.

The panel charged with recommending ways to fix Louisiana’s broken tax structure is nearing the end of its work. As The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports, the Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy was supposed to submit its report by Sept. 1, but won a 30-day extension because of the August floods.

A few things they are planning to zero in on specifically include broadening the state sales tax base by removing some exemptions and possibly applying it to some services, capping the state’s federal income tax deduction and reducing some tax credits for businesses. The ideas aren’t new. Economists and other experts have been making the same recommendations for years. But leaders say they hope this time will be different. “Louisiana’s broken. We all know it. Everybody’s sort of putting their eggs in this basket,” said Rep. John Schroder, a Covington Republican who doesn’t serve on the panel but set the task force into motion with legislation in the first of two special sessions earlier this year to address immediate budget needs.

Shreveport medical school on the brink
Leaders in northwest Louisiana fear that Shreveport may lose its medical school as the tensions continue to simmer between the LSU Health Sciences Center and the private foundation tapped by former Gov. Bobby Jindal to manage the state’s safety-net hospital in Shreveport. Lawmakers from the region were briefed by LSU officials on Tuesday, and an announcement is expected later this week from Gov. John Bel Edwards. Gannett’s Greg Hilburn and Seth Dickerson have details:  

Lawmakers and Edwards have said the state hastily crafted unsustainable contracts with the current partners when then Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature privatized the state’s charity hospital system in 2013. Those partners must take less if they’re to continue to operate safety net hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Bogalousa, Houma and Independence. “We don’t have the money to satisfy all of the provisions of the (contracts),” Dardenne said.

Investing for productivity

The U.S. economy seems to be on the mend, yet there continues to be a lag in productivity. According to American Progress, this lag has caused $2.8 trillion in missing GDP since 2007. The latest index by the Institute for Supply Management reports the sharpest decrease in non-manufacturing and service jobs, since 2010. Brendan Duke for American Progress says the solution is to invest more in human capital.

What is the main reason for slow productivity growth? There are three possible explanations: slow growth in workers’ human capital; slow growth in investment, known as capital intensity; and slow growth in the efficiency with which workers use capital, which is referred to as total factor productivity. Looking at actual productivity growth in the nonfarm business sector, the principal problem is a lack of investment. Speeding up GDP growth will require faster productivity growth—which, in turn, will require more investment.

Recent immigrants not committing more crime

Your immigrant neighbors may bring the area’s crime rate down, contrary to popular American belief. Sociologist, Bianca Bersani and criminologist, Alex Piquero report that foreign-born individuals commit fewer offenses than their U.S.-born peers, and an influx of immigrants into a neighborhood reduces crime. Policymakers are urged to eradicate fear-based tactics when considering legislation affecting immigrant families.

As the public’s views on immigration policy trend toward support for increased pathways to citizenship, the rhetoric on the immigrant-crime nexus appears particularly resilient to scientific evidence to the contrary. Interest in the rhetoric-reality divide is more than an academic puzzle as exposure to these messages exacerbates fears, fuels anxieties and provokes reactionary responses that are not well conceived, like mass deportation plans or broad stroke exclusionary practices.

Number of the day

13% – The percentage decrease in goods and services the United States is projected to produce in 2016 compared to expectations before the Great Recession. (Source: Center for American Progress)