Governor vetoes backroom tax deal

Governor vetoes backroom tax deal

In the waning minutes of the legislative session, lawmakers agreed on a deal – without any public input – that would provide oil giant Shell with a $3 million property tax rebate from Plaquemines Parish. The tax break was unusual, even by Louisiana standards, because Shell was the only company that stood to benefit and it had already lost an appeal before the state’s tax commission. Thankfully for public schools, parks, police protection and other services in Plaquemines Parish, Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the legislation. The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges and Sam Karlin report

But it was not acceptable to the Plaquemines Parish Council and Plaquemines Parish assessor Belinda Hazel. They asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to veto the legislation, Senate Bill 241. He did so Saturday, saying it would benefit only one company. He also noted the bill received no public testimony or debate and effectively caused the Legislature to side with Shell in its dispute with the Tax Commission. “Should there be another attempt to pass a bill meant to benefit one taxpayer next year,” the governor said in his veto message, “it should be done transparently and with full consideration by both chambers.”

Biden to push three-month gas tax holiday 
Over the past months, The White House has pondered ways to ease the pain that people are feeling at the gas pump. President Joe Biden has suggested invoking the Defense Production Act, a historic release of the nation’s oil reserves and sending rebate cards to American drivers to respond to soaring prices. On Wednesday, the president will ask Congress to suspend the federal gas tax – approximately 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel — through the end of September. The Washington Post’s Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lydia DePillis report on the uphill battle that this idea faces in Congress, driven by fears that the savings won’t make their way to consumers. 

Economists have generally dismissed the idea of suspending the gas tax as ineffective and a waste of public resources. The reason? The federal gas tax is now such a small slice of the price at the pump, coming in at less than 5 percent of the total cost, that consumers might not even notice. … “Whatever you thought of the merits of a gas tax holiday in February it is a worse idea now,” Jason Furman, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, posted on Twitter, arguing that the oil industry was likely to pocket most of the savings.

Income support in childhood increases future earnings 
Cash assistance for low-income households with infants can have “profound and long-lasting effects” on children’s well-being, according to a new study from The Quarterly Journal of Economics. “Investing in Infants: the Lasting Effects of Cash Transfers to New Families,” found that babies who received more support from child-related tax benefits went on to perform better in school and earn more money as adults. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ George Fenton notes, the successes outlined in this report make the case for Congress to expand the Child Tax Credit. 

Third, the new research offers insight into how income assistance in early childhood helps children thrive later in life. It finds that support for families with young children through the EITC leads to stronger academic performance among the children, which in turn appears to account for their higher earnings when they reach their twenties and thirties. Based on prior literature, the authors also note that even temporary aid to low-income families can help them avoid “short-term stress with long-term ramifications” from adverse events such as eviction, food insecurity, or loss of transportation. This could explain how a more financially secure environment helps children in school.

Offshore wind bill gets mixed results 
Gov. John Bel Edward signed legislation on Tuesday that creates a framework for offshore wind leasing in Louisiana waters. House Bill 165 allows the state to take revenue and charge for leases – like oil and gas companies – for offshore wind farms. But as’s Tristan Baurick explains, many in Louisiana’s  nascent wind industry are concerned: 

(P)aying royalties is almost unheard of for the offshore wind industry, according to the Southeastern Wind Coalition. Because offshore wind is still in the development phase in the U.S. With construction costs high and profits relatively low, companies aren’t required to pay royalties for wind farms in federal waters, where much of the industry’s growth is focused. Unlike oil, which is a finite resource that can be stored and shipped to markets across the world, electricity from offshore wind is a limitless resource but it must be used immediately, typically by nearby power utilities. Louisiana’s state waters, which extend about three miles from the coast, have slower wind speeds than the deeper parts of the Gulf managed by the federal government, which isn’t proposing to take a share of offshore wind energy earnings.

While some in Louisiana are concerned about sharing revenue and paying for leases in state waters, others, like the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, want to go further:

Some state leaders and the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority also want Louisiana to receive a share of revenues from wind energy generated in federal waters. The CPRA pays for its massive restoration projects mostly with money from the BP oil disaster settlement and revenue from the oil and gas industry. With both sources shrinking, the CPRA is looking to offshore wind to help cover its project costs.

Number of the Day
4% – Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May. This ties the second-lowest seasonally-adjusted rate, last seen in December 2007. (Source: Louisiana Workforce Commission)