Income tax repeal remains a bad idea

Income tax repeal remains a bad idea

The House Ways and Means Committee meets Wednesday to continue discussing the potential repeal of Louisiana’s personal and corporate income tax, which brings in nearly $5 billion a year that supports health care, higher education, public safety and other programs that touch every community in Louisiana. As Molly Ryan reports for LSU’s Manship News Service, the options for replacing this money could include repeal of the state homestead exemption and other protections for low- and moderate-income Louisianans. 

(Rep. Richard) Nelson’s latest plan calls for a similar increase in sale(s) taxes, and critics say it would shift more of the overall tax burden from wealthier to lower-income residents. “Louisiana’s income tax is very low by national standards, yet the revenue it raises provides critical support for our schools, hospitals and other vital services,” the Louisiana Budget Project wrote in its newsletter last month. “Eliminating this tax would inevitably shift the responsibility for paying taxes from wealthy people and corporations to low-income Louisianans and small businesses and make it much harder to balance the state budget each year.”

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s Kamolika Das writes that income-tax repeal has become the “white whale” for right-wing state policymakers around the country – a reckless obsession that threatens to wreak havoc on governments’ ability to provide basic services. In Mississippi, leaders were recently confronted with the harsh economic reality of eliminating their state income tax: 

As the tax-cut battle unfolded, industry representatives regularly voiced concern about nixing income taxes. After dozens of meetings with business leaders and numerous surveys, the Mississippi Economic Council determined that state income taxes were not a “hindrance” to most businesses and that finding qualified, reliable employees was a much larger priority. An analysis by two state economists aligned with these findings; they concluded that the large revenue shortfall would lead to fewer state government jobs, a net decrease in population, and an overall loss in personal income.

Louisiana has lower bar for validating child abuse claims
The criteria for determining child abuse allegations in Louisiana is lower than 14 other states, according to a new report from the Louisiana Legislative auditor. While every state keeps a so-called “central registry” of child abusers, Louisiana adds names to the list when there is “reasonable cause” that abuse has occurred, rather than when there is “a preponderance of evidence” like Texas, Alabama and others require. The Advocate’s Andrea Gallo examines the reports findings and how they relate to the recent tragedy at the Department of Children and Family Services. 

“The report is very informative and will be used to evaluate practice and determine if additional changes are needed,” said Mona Michelli, DCFS’ deputy assistant secretary. Louisiana’s lower standard makes the recent death of 2-year-old Mitchell Robinson all the more baffling, said an attorney who represents the toddler’s family. DCFS had received three warnings about the toddler being hospitalized on suspicion of drug overdoses before he overdosed on fentanyl and died in late June. Mitchell’s mother, Whitney Ard, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Affirmative action in danger
Conservative justices of the Supreme Court seem to favor overturning another long-standing legal precedent just four months after the landmark upending of Roe v. Wade. On Monday, the court’s majority questioned the legality of race-conscious policies in college admissions, better known as affirmative action. States Newsroom’s Allison Winter reports on the two cases challenging affirmative action and the damaging and wide-ranging impacts they could have. 

But she [Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar] said the effects of a ruling could be much more broad.“The petitioner seeks a sweeping ruling that would harm students at schools and colleges throughout the nation. A blanket ban on race conscious admissions would cause racial diversity to plummet at many of our nation’s leading educational institutions,” Prelogar said. “Race-neutral alternatives right now can’t make up the difference, so all students at those schools would be denied the benefits of learning in a diverse educational environment. And because college is the training ground for America’s future leaders, the negative consequences would have reverberations throughout just about every important institution in America.”

Edwards defends criminal justice reforms
Gov. John Bel Edwards defended the bipartisan criminal justice reforms he signed into law in 2017 that reduced Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate. Edward spoke about the benefits of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which reduced the number of non-violent offenders in Louisiana jails, and pushed back against notions that they were responsible for an uptick in crime. The Lafayette Daily Advertiser’s William Taylor Potter reports

“There are folks who want to tie that (rising crime) to efforts at criminal justice reform,” Edwards said. “I think the mistake there is that it’s happening in states that didn’t undertake criminal justice reform, and we know that we focused practically everything we did on non-violent offenders.” Since the reforms were implemented, the state’s prison system had around 9,400 fewer inmates in 2021 than it did in 2016, though Edwards said the state has more violent offenders in prison than it did when the reforms were passed. The number of non-violent offenders fell by nearly 10,300 over the same period, according to a report on the reforms by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll Closes tomorrow!
Parents of young children: Please help policymakers gain a better understanding of the importance of accessible child care. If you have children under 5, click here to take the Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll, which is sponsored by Louisiana Department of Education, Agenda for Children, United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children.

Number of the Day
2.8 million – Number of homes that could be powered by two wind energy areas in the Gulf of Mexico. That amount of energy would generate enough electricity for the populations of Houston, New Orleans and Baton Rouge combined. (Source: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management via The Advocate)