Candidates divided on ITEP

Candidates divided on ITEP

The major candidate for governor have had little to say about  poverty, racial equity, climate change and a host of other issues. But they have drawn sharp distinctions over the future of the state’s most generous corporate tax break program, the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to maintain the reforms he has put in place. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham wants to abolish them “on day one.” And businessman Eddie Rispone wants to rip away control of the tax breaks from local governments and make other unspecified changes.  The Advocate’s Sam Karlin has a roundup: 

The state program for decades exempted virtually all manufacturers who applied from 100% of their local property taxes on new capital spending at their facilities. These included oil refineries, chemical plants and other manufacturing plants. While the program flew under the radar, and still remains lesser-known to voters than many hot-button issues, it has attracted the attention of powerful business groups and the scrutiny of local activists. In 2017, an Advocate investigation found the program saved those companies billions in taxes — even as they cut jobs.


Billionaires vs. everyone else
Much has been made of the new study, released this week, that shows the richest 400 American families paying taxes at a lower rate than everyone else – a first in U.S. history.  Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post explains what makes this groundbreaking research from economists at the University of California at Berkeley so different from what’s come before: 

The analysis differs from many other published estimates of tax burdens by encompassing the totality of taxes Americans pay: not just federal income taxes but also corporate taxes, as well as taxes paid at the state and local levels. It also includes the burden of about $250 billion of what Saez and Zucman call “indirect taxes,” such as licenses for motor vehicles and businesses. The analysis, which was the subject of a column Monday in the New York Times, is also notable for the detailed breakdown of the tax burden of not just the top 1 percent but also the top 0.1 percent, the top 0.01 percent and the 400 richest households.

Universal EITC
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is staking his presidential candidacy on his plan for providing every American with a “universal basic income” of  $1,000 per month. However, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a way we currently give cash to people. A new proposal from a Syracuse University economist would marry the basic income with the EITC to combat poverty in America.  Scioto Analysis has more:

Rather than starting with a grant and then taking it away as income goes up, the Universal Earned Income Tax Credit gives cash as income goes up and never takes it away as incomes increase. The universal earned income tax credit would encourage low income people to work while supplementing their incomes and would not be very targeted, going to a lot of high-income people as well as low-income people. Nothing like the universal earned income tax credit has been implemented before.

Student debt is a barrier to diversity
Diversifying the teaching profession is critical to improving educational outcomes for students of color. But an overlooked barrier to this task has been student loan debt. Black students are more likely than whites to take out loans to afford their undergraduate degree. The significant education requirements and the low pay is leading many graduates of color away from the classroom. The Center for American Progress’ Bayliss Fiddiman, Colleen Campbell, and Lisette Partelow have more: 

The need for teachers from diverse racial backgrounds becomes increasingly more urgent as the U.S. student population trends increasingly to individuals of color. To diversify the U.S. teaching workforce, it is important to identify the barriers that keep people of color from entering the teaching profession and staying there. Persistently low pay serves as a deterrent for anyone considering the teaching profession. However, that deterrent becomes more acute for people who have higher student loan debt.

Primary election day is tomorrow. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please do not forget to exercise your franchise. You can read LBP’s guide to the constitutional amendments here


Number of the Day
384,013 – The number of people who cast a ballot during early voting. It’s the second highest number of early votes in Louisiana’s history. (Source: Louisiana Secretary of State)