Search This Blog


Budget plan equates "stabilization" with "inflation"

As predicted, that big breeze you felt came from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards whiffing on his euphemistically-named “Budget Stabilization Plan,” which more accurately should be called a “Budget Inflation Plan.”

That’s because, without all the numbers quite in, in the aggregate it asks for tax increases in the neighborhood of $608 million. It would let lapse one penny of the sales tax, expand the reach of the remaining four cents to services and transactions currently exempted, make permanent reductions to tax exceptions scheduled to revert to full deductibility after next fiscal year, amend the Constitution to eliminate the deduction for federal taxes on income (rejected in the case of corporations by voters last year), ratchet down income tax rates a percent, and institute a new gross receipts tax euphemistically called a “Commercial Activity Tax.” It also pledges unspecified reductions or eliminations of exceptions and phasing out the corporate franchise tax.

Because income taxation happens on a calendar year basis, the income tax portions would occur in the middle of next fiscal year. To make up for that, repeals of exemptions would take place at the beginning of the third and fourth quarters of 2017 while the extra cent of sales tax would stay on until it scheduled expiration.


Except on roads, spending cuts wanted over tax hikes

The Louisiana public gives a green light to somewhat higher gasoline taxes but appears skeptical of tax increases as a general policy, according to a survey that also indicates the people’s preference to cut state spending before raising taxes in general.

Yesterday, the Louisiana State University Public Policy Lab released the first installment of its annual survey. Just over 1,000 respondents produced a margin of error of a little over three percent, although the low response rate (which tends to induce bias in measuring a select set of behaviors) and extended period (a month long) over which it collected data presents a little caution concerning whether the results capture accurately attitudes on the eve of the 2017 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature.

One thing clearly comes through from the rich array of data presented: their reaffirmation of the tendency of Louisianans to identify by perceived in-groups and out-groups and citizens’ willingness to cast blame or foist solutions on out-group members. This resonates as a legacy of the state’s populist political culture, which encourages a Manichean worldview that see politics as a zero-sum game: policy must favor your group at the expense of others alleged to get the better of you in order to even things out, leading to countenance of government-led redistribution.


Same concerns then scuttle broadband project now

It’s déjà vu all over again for a broadband access project in Louisiana that saw the same mistakes repeated, leading to its demise both times.

Recently, the Louisiana Board of Regents announced that it would not proceed with a plan to extend its high-speed broadband network into the state’s school districts. It would have used its own funds, leveraged with a 90 percent federal government match, to do this, but only a handful of districts responded affirmatively to the offer by a deadline, so it withdrew the offer.

Higher education and Department of Education officials expressed uncertainty, if not disbelief, over why too few districts seemed interested. But representatives of the districts argued that a lack of information and compressed schedule made many districts hesitate.


LA Sea Grant cut illustrates undue alarmism to come

Look no further than Louisiana’s Sea Grant program for a microcosm of issues involved in the battle to restrain government spending growth.

Based in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 33 universities allied with states and territories oversee these programs that award funding meeting various criteria and provide other support services. The program’s mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. Louisiana State University runs Louisiana’s version.

The Pres. Donald Trump Administration’s initial budget zeroes out federal funding for these, as it seeks to curtail spending and to shift monies from domestic to defense concerns. By the beginning of the federal fiscal year’s midterm U.S. debt will exceed $20 trillion.