As the session nears its midpoint, the House Ways and Means Committee took its first concrete steps toward reworking the state’s broken tax system when it approved several revenue measures on Monday. But the bills that moved to the House floor appear to fall far short of solving the state’s $1.3 billion “fiscal cliff” in 2018 – and only makes marginal progress in addressing the structural flaws in the current tax code. The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges has the story:
For lawmakers and policy-makers trying to solve the fiscal cliff this year, what mattered most Monday was that Ways and Means gave the full House – and thus the Legislature – legislative vehicles that potentially could be amended later to raise the necessary revenue. The budget approved by the House last week would get the Legislature only half way to heading off the fiscal cliff next year, House leaders have acknowledged. “Allowing the House to have a full debate on revenue measures sends a message to the Senate that they’re giving them due consideration,” state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, said in an interview. “We have to have both revenue and spending measures.”
The committee will consider two major tax proposals this morning: Rep. Kenny Havard’s Business Activity Tax (HB 648) and Rep. Gene Reynolds’ proposal (HB 655) to levy a sales tax on certain services taxed in other states. Both bills would improve state tax collections, though the bills were rewritten in committee and it’s unclear exactly what they would raise. Julia O’Donoghue with The Times Picayune/Nola.com reports:
House Bill 648 [by Rep. Havard] would apply to corporations and business entities taxed as corporations for federal tax purposes. This new tax would replace the corporate franchise and income taxes. The state’s revenue department says the legislation would bring in $605 million in the next budget cycle, when the budget hole is expected to materialize, but it would result in a net revenue increase of just $153 million. Since the legislation calls for the corporate income tax and corporate franchise tax to disappear, some of the revenue it produced would have to make up for those other taxes being scrapped. After 2020, the net increase for the state would be just $30 million, once those corporate tax credits that wouldn’t apply initially come back online, according to the state’s revenue agency.
Late night with Sen. Cassidy
Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel went “viral” last week with his monologue about his infant son’s heart condition and the need for healthcare policy to protect people with pre-existing conditions. In response, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said the Senate must meet “the Jimmy Kimmel test,” when developing its own version of a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. As Sarah Lueck with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes in a new analysis, Cassidy’s own health care reform proposal doesn’t quite meet the Kimmel test.
The Kimmel test is an exacting standard. The House bill fails that test — and so does legislation that Sen. Cassidy himself introduced, which would weaken private-market protections for people with pre-existing conditions and incentivize states not to expand Medicaid or to drop Medicaid expansions they have in place. Crafting a Senate health care bill that passes the Kimmel test would mean ensuring that people with medical conditions can get the affordable health coverage they need — no matter what state they live in, their means, and whether they get their coverage from a private source or Medicaid.”
Kimmel hosted Cassidy on his show Monday night, where he proposed his own version of the test. Per the New York Times:
“Since I am Jimmy Kimmel, I would like to make a suggestion as to what the Jimmy Kimmel test should be. I’ll keep it simple. The Jimmy Kimmel test, I think, should be: No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it. Can that be the Jimmy Kimmel test — as simple as that?”
Cassidy demurred, citing potential costs.
Life expectancy dropping in some areas
Where you live could affect how long you live, according to a new study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The study, which looked at changes in life expectancy by county between 1980 and 2014, revealed mixed results across the United States. Some counties have experienced substantial gains in life expectancy while others have seen the average lifespan decrease. The authors of the study attributed the differences in life expectancy to differing levels of access to health care as well as the prevalence of smoking, physical activity and obesity. Joel Achenbach with The Washington Post:
“Life expectancy in many places in this country is declining. It’s going backward instead of forward,” said Ali Mokdad, a co-author of the report and a professor at the university. “These disparities are widening, so this gap is increasing.” People are less likely to live longer if they are poor, get little exercise and lack access to health care, the researchers found. Mokdad said the quality and availability of that health care — for example, access to screening for signs of cancer — has a significant effect on health outcomes. The United States, he said, needs to rethink how it delivers medical care, with a much greater investment in prevention, and a more holistic approach to creating healthy communities.
Check out the life expectancy in your parish on this interactive map.
Keeping corporal punishment
Roughly half of Louisiana’s public school districts still allow corporal punishment, and that’s just fine with the state House of Representatives. Lawmakers there voted down legislation on Monday that would have banned the practice statewide. Some legislators cited the need to preserve the local control of school boards, but others cited concerns about the effectiveness of corporal punishment. Gannett’s Greg Hilburn reports:
Rep. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, said the decision should be left up to each school board. “We do some good things in this body, but we do some stupid things (too); I still feel like people can do things better on a local level than we can as a body,” said Pope, who spent 38 years as a public school educator. Pope also said removing the option of corporal punishment would result in more expulsions. But [the bill’s author, Rep. Barbara] Norton said opponents didn’t produce any evidence that corporal punishment is effective. “I’ve not seen any data that shows whuppin’ our children is making our children’s education any better,” she said. “It doesn’t work today; it didn’t work yesterday.”
Number of the Day
29,684- Estimated number of jobs that would be lost in Louisiana by 2020 if the American Health Care Act is enacted. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)