On tax breaks and job creation

On tax breaks and job creation

It’s been a conservative mantra for years: If you cut taxes on corporations and ladle out incentives, they will create jobs and grow the economy.

Number of the Day

350 - Number of bills that have been filed proposing changes to the TOPS program since its inception. Of these, 75 have been enacted in law (Source: Associated Press)

It’s been a conservative mantra for years: If you cut taxes on corporations and ladle out incentives, they will create jobs and grow the economy. But the track record in Louisiana (and elsewhere) suggests this approach is flawed, and comes at the expense of needed investments in education, infrastructure and other economic drivers. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard looks at the issue in his Sunday column.

And what has Louisiana received for these offerings left on the altar? Not much, says Louis Reine, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO. “Three or four years ago they told us we’d have a boom in jobs off these tax incentives. My question is ‘Where are the jobs?’” Reine said, adding that he’s not against economic development initiatives, just that so many have been given to businesses while trained Louisiana workers find they can make far more in Texas or Alabama. A Louisiana Budget Project report released Thursday shows Louisiana has 1.98 million jobs, 53,800 more than in December 2007. The “new jobs number” should be more than 100,000 to keep up with population growth. “Job growth remains slow, wages are depressed and many workers are stuck in low-quality jobs,” stated the survey by the Baton Rouge-based think tank that reviews government policies with an eye on low- and middle-income families.

Bill Cassidy keeps trying to gut the Medicaid program
While most of his U.S. Senate colleagues seem to have moved on from the bruising legislative battle over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Louisiana’s own Bill Cassidy keeps plugging away on his effort to end the Medicaid program as we know it. Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are set to unveil the latest version of their bill today, complete with changes that are designed to get more governors on board. The Advocate’s Bryn Stole reports that Gov. John Bel Edwards is not among the supporters, and quotes several GOP senators who give the bill scant odds of passing.

Though details of the latest version of the Cassidy-Graham plan haven’t been publicly revealed yet, a version put forward in July met with criticism from a number of quarters because of provisions that would cap federal spending on Medicaid, something opponents have said would amount to significant cuts to government-supported healthcare for the poor, elderly and disabled. Jeanie Donovan, a health policy analyst for the Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates for low and moderate-income families, said she has a number of concerns about the plan based on the details made public so far. Federal block-grant funding won’t keep up with rising medical costs or changes in population and poverty rates, Donovan said, meaning down the roads states are likely to experience deep funding cuts when compared with the current law. Just as concerning, Donovan said, was that the plan doesn’t require states to put the money toward programs for low-income residents.

The resegregation of Jefferson County
More than 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling that led to the desegregation of public schools, communities across the South continue to resist racial integration. That includes Jefferson County, Ala., which surrounds Birmingham and where many cities have formed their own school districts in recent years and where a recent legal battle echoed those of a half century ago. Nikole Hannah-Jones, writing for The New York Times Magazine, takes a deep look into the effort by the town of Gardendale to form its own school district – a battle that also echoes in Louisiana, where breakaway school districts have proliferated in recent years.

School secessions, at least in the South, trace their roots to the arsenal of tools that white communities deployed to resist the desegregation mandate of the Brown ruling. While many border and non-Deep South Southern states reluctantly moved toward token desegregation, removing the legal barriers to integration and carefully selecting a handful of black students to enter formerly all-white schools, Alabama, among the most heavily black states in the nation, reacted to the Brown ruling with a full-on revolt both violent and tactical. … Nationally, black children are more segregated today than they were a half century ago, in part because mostly-white well-off communities are separating themselves from diverse and poorer school systems.

The TOPS conundrum
The AP’s Melinda Deslatte watched the first meeting of the new TOPS commission, which is supposed to make recommendations for how to make the popular college tuition program sustainable for future generations. She writes that most of the ideas for curbing the escalating cost of the program are ones that have already been rejected by the state Legislature.

Eliminate students in higher-income families? Raise the eligibility standards? Require repayment if a student fails to get a degree? End TOPS awards for students who attend private colleges? Make it a forgivable loan program? Mandate that TOPS students work in Louisiana after college or repay some of the tax dollars spent on their tuition? Change the program into a flat stipend not tied to tuition at all?

The recommendations from the task force, which consists solely of legislators, are due Feb. 15.

Number of the Day
350 – Number of bills that have been filed proposing changes to the TOPS program since its inception. Of these, 75 have been enacted in law (Source: Associated Press)