Despite a disagreement with Gov. John Bel Edwards over the procedure for filing this year’s budget, the budget bill filed by House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry includes $104 million for teacher and support staff raises, mirroring one of the governor’s top priorities. Unlike Edwards’ proposal, however, Henry’s bill does not include an inflationary increase to the school funding formula, the Minimum Foundation Program. Julia O’Donoghue of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune has more:
Henry’s budget proposal doesn’t go as far as Edwards in terms of increasing overall K-12 school spending. The governor wants an additional $39 million to go to state school boards for discretionary spending. That money is included in a budget bill Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, submitted on the governor’s behalf. Landry said she and some other House Republicans aren’t necessarily on board with the across-the-board increase for K-12 schools. While Louisiana teachers currently make less than their counterparts in other Southern states, Louisiana’s overall K-12 education spending is in line with the national average, she said. … The Louisiana Association of Educators, one of the state’s two main teacher unions, believe the school districts need more funding to go along with the pay raises so they can keep up with inflation and avoid cuts to programs, said Debbie Meaux, president of the organization. The general funding increase will also help school districts keep up with pension and benefit costs that will increase as a result of the pay raise, she said. “All of it needs to be done as a package,” Meaux said. “If we start picking out pieces and parts, we are going to end up with schools and communities suffering.”
Corporate tax cuts do not pay for themselves
Federal corporate income tax revenue fell by 31 percent in 2018 from the previous year as a result of cuts passed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In other words: these tax cuts did not pay for themselves. This proved what many economists already knew, despite the Trump administration and its boosters claiming the opposite. Matthew Gardner from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy elaborates:
The current collapse shouldn’t be remotely surprising to anyone who followed the passage of the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, created a giant new tax break for capital investments, and failed to eliminate special breaks and loopholes that allow some corporations to pay nothing at all. Every objective forecast has shown the new law to be a substantial revenue loser in both the short run and over time. But some of the new tax law’s most ardent advocates have insisted, without evidence, that the corporate cuts would pay for themselves in the form of economic growth. Their argument is that lower corporate taxes lead to a huge boost in investment and corporate profits and incomes, and taxes paid on additional profits and incomes will offset revenue lost as a result of the tax cuts.
Florida felons face another obstacle to vote
In a huge win for the formerly incarcerated and criminal justice reform advocates, voters in Florida decided last November to restore the voting rights of 1.4 million convicted felons. Keeping felons from voting has had a long and racialized history across the South, so restoring voting rights in Florida was a huge step forward. Unfortunately, Florida lawmakers are now trying to undermine the voters’ intent by erecting new barriers. A bill working its way through the Florida House would tie ex-felons’ voting rights to their ability to pay court fines and fees. The Equal Justice Initiative discusses how this is a step backwards:
Mother Jones reports that a House subcommittee on Tuesday approved a bill that would bar people with felony records from voting until they have paid all court fines and fees, including “any cost of supervision” like parole, even if the fines and fees were not part of the original sentence. Millions of American families — disproportionately poor and minority families — are already struggling to pay fees imposed by the criminal justice system, often forgoing basic necessities because failing to pay supervision fees and other costs can lead to their loved ones being returned to jail or prison. A recent study found that about 113 million American adults have an immediate family member who is formerly or currently incarcerated. As of 2011, the total amount of criminal justice debt owed by Americans amounted to around $50 billion.
Good news travels slowly
The state’s newfound financial stability – made possible by a 2018 tax compromise that took three special sessions to achieve – hasn’t stopped the political battles at the state Capitol between Gov. John Bel Edwards and the arch-conservative House leadership. As The AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports, the latest skirmish involves the governor’s budget proposal, which was based on income projections from state economists that have not been ratified by the Revenue Estimating Conference due to a holdout by Speaker Taylor Barras. Some House members contend that the proposal violates the state constitution.
In an exchange that grew increasingly tense, (Commissioner of Administration Jay) Dardenne said: It’s not in violation of the Louisiana Constitution, and no one has seen fit to file suit and contend that.” … Left unquestioned was why House Republican leaders who have touted independence would care if they got an accurate budget proposal from Edwards or not, since they criticize his approach to state spending and likely would want to heavily rewrite his budget.
Number of the day
$204 billion – The amount of federal corporate income tax paid in 2018, down from $297 billion in 2017. (Source: ITEP)