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Tobacco tax hike to pay down misstated UAL might work

Proponents of increased tobacco taxes in Louisiana, don’t despair. There’s still a way to get this attempt at behavioral modification into law in a way reasonably related to the activity it regulates that will bring the state other benefits.

A part of the Gov. Bobby Jindal tax plan to shift taxation away from income and towards other kinds included a $1.05 per pack tax hike on cigarettes. But with his retreat from that specific proposal, it’s now in limbo. But a disturbing development in California can provide the vehicle to resurrect something like it.

Recently, a federal bankruptcy court ruled that Stockton could enter into the public sector version of that protection, where one of the major creditors of the city is the state’s public sector pension program. This precedent exposes pension funds to a novel kind of liability, as now the required payments from the city to the fund previously considered absolute and sacrosanct legally may not occur in their entirety or at all.


Radical doctrine behind "equal pay" deserves rejection

Like reoccurrences of venereal disease, each year for the past several the Louisiana Legislature has had inflicted upon it versions of bills called the Equal Pay for Women Act, the agendas of which is not what its sponsors claim and what agenda they claim addresses a nonexistent problem to the detriment of society.

The bills, duplicating the language of previous failed efforts, would define a prohibited employment practice for employers of four or more where pay differs on the basis of gender, and sets up a procedure receive damages if a violation is present. This year versions applying to the private sector are known as HB 453 by state Rep. Barbara Norton and SB 153 by state Sen. Edwin Murray clones Norton’s. SB 68 by state Sen. Karen Peterson does the same for state and local government employment. The important operative phrase in all three is this:

No employer may discriminate against an employee on the basis of sex by paying wages to an employee at a rate less than that of another employee for the same or substantially similar work on jobs in which their performance requires equal skill, effort, education, and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions including time worked in the position. (emphases added)


End, don't mend, wasteful solar installation tax breaks

With his concession/challenge yesterday abating his tax swap plan in favor of the Legislature's pursuit of something similar, Gov. Bobby Jindal gave clear advice on the direction to head to lower income tax rates if not abolish it: excise tax exemptions he said benefited "special interests." There are several cued up in the Legislature this session for abandonment, but one stands out.

While there are those that argue that Louisiana’s generous solar energy tax credits should be mended, Jindal would seem to think it needs to be ended now along with a few others. Of theseveral bills prefiled that address tax exceptions, around the theme of eliminating non-productive ones, some, like state Sen. Danny Martiny’s SB 231, stand alone in getting rid of this tax credit by 2020. Others, like state Rep. Roy Burrell’s HB 444, go after several of the most wasteful, and in a quicker fashion (end of 2015 in this case) if they cannot prove they are cost-effective.

Of which the solar one most definitively is not. Over the past four years, each year the state has lost on average more than $11 million per year, transferring this to the pockets of a few installers. That savings to households averages out, given statistics on meters installed as what these systems enable owners to do is to put in a meter that allows them to sell energy to providers at times of high generation by solar, to $230 a year per household, but works out to a transfer of $37,825 of business per household to installers.


Jindal tactically concedes to win strategic transformation

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s address to the start of the 2013 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature demonstrated he knows when to fold them and still come out a likely winner.

Quickly mentioning a few other past policy initiatives enacted connected to economic development, Jindal spent almost all his speech discussing the desirability of the elimination of income taxes as a means for continued success in this area. He then declared that he was pulling his tax swap plan, basically no income taxes in exchange for higher and expanded state sales taxes and some exceptions elimination, in favor of anything that would eliminate income taxes. The plan had come under fire from a number of quarters as its complexity served more to stoke fears than support.

Several bills already introduced would work to eliminate income taxation, although none immediately, while other look to get rid of exemptions, and one even wishes to institute a statewide property tax dedicated to higher education funding. Cleverly, Jindal now has removed his chin from leading this effort and has set himself up as arbiter with more input than anybody else in whatever product manifests. And in accepting this task, the Legislature leaves fewer resources available to pursue more mischievous ends according to Jindal, such as challenges to his budgeting.