By Robert Mann
Come with me back to the good old days, when Gov. Bobby Jindal was a fearless crusader against the special interests and the obscene tax credits negotiated by their dastardly lobbyists.
Let us travel all the way to March 19, 2013.
Gone in 30 days: DOA ignores regulation which requires three-year retention of all public records, including emails
News reporters from other states are quick to point out that Louisiana has one of the strongest public records laws in the country. A New York reporter, for example, was surprised to learn that LouisianaVoice was complaining about a month’s delay in obtaining public records from the Department of Education (DOE) and Division of Administration (DOA).
“I have an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act; the equivalent to Louisiana’s R.S.
According to informed sources, (that’s everyone with a pulse), Bobby Jindals SIGNATURE TAX SCHEME is not going forward. The bill must
originate in the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee, and that body’s Chairman Joel Robideaux put out this statement this morning:
“Over the last several months we have all grappled with the issues involved when considering the repeal of the income tax…I have reviewed the analysis of the policy community…my preference is that we should indefinitely defer consideration of these bills.”
CB Forgotston, who originated the dead-or-alive clock on the tax swap, isn’t convinced:
File this one under “OMG WTF LOL”.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, or LABI, is one of the gret stet’s most power lobbies. From the tactical end, they control 4 major PAC’s (Ingeniously named NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and…you guessed it, WEST) that allow them to direct at least $20k of contributions to any single candidate in any race. But more importantly, their political weight works behind the scenes to secure some of the most favorable anti-environmental, economically-regressive policies you can buy. This isn’t business. It’s crony capitalism. But we digress.
Anyway, LABI has been a big Jindal ally on some of his biggest gambits, including education “reform”, retirement reform, and health care privatization. On the Sales tax tip, however, they’re OUT like the slow kid in dodge ball:
Quite a few eyebrows raised in the business community recently when Governor Jindal’s Executive Counsel, Tim Barfield, responded to a question about winners and losers under the governor’s tax swap plan. Barfield, one of the managers of the issue for the governor, said that individuals would pay less and businesses would pay more.
By the time Mr. Barfield testified before the Ways and Means Committee on March 26, he estimated the impact at $500 million. That number is probably higher today than in 2011 and undoubtedly will go up significantly in the future.
A tax increase approaching a half-billion dollars levied on the business community at large definitely flies in the face of that principal goal of the organization for 2013.
LABI’s policy is clear: If the tax swap proposal is introduced as a net increase in business taxes or is amended during the legislative process to take that form, LABI will oppose it.
Swell. Bobby certainly should give these guys, his own teammates here on team “fuck the poor” a little deference, right? Nope:
The governor said the only people who like the current tax system are “lawyers, lobbyists and the people who benefit from loopholes.” He pointed to a study released Tuesday by two think tanks — the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and the Beacon Hill Institute — that concluded the tax proposal would generate an average of $910 in extra cash for the state’s households and create nearly 12,000 new jobs within four years.
“This is good for Louisiana families and Louisiana businesses,” Jindal said.
Yessir, that’s what they call in baseball a “brush-back” pitch from the Governor.
Oh, and as usual, the oil boys got what they want and they’re cool. Preserve their egregious exemptions and they’re back to crushing Louisiana’s coast.
The Jindal administration also distributed a news release from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association regarding an agreement on severance tax incentives and sales tax incentives affecting the oil and gas industry.
LOGA’s president, Don Briggs, said the administration pledged to keep the oil and gas natural gas service sector exempt from a state sales tax on services.
FBI investigation prompts Jindal to cancel controversial CNSI contract: but now who will be thrown under the bus?
At the risk of sounding a bit smug, regular readers may remember that we had serious misgivings about that $194 million CNSI contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) from the outset.
And so, it turns out, does the FBI.
And Gov. Bobby Jindal, much like another governor of some 2,000 years ago, thinks by washing his hands, he can absolve himself of any blame in the entire matter.
As a former head of the University of Louisiana system, Bobby Jindal must know a thing or two about the way public higher education is run in the gret stet.
Unfortunately, this familiarity has not resulted in an increased respect or concern for the state of higher education. Each successive year, Jindal’s budgets have smashed higher education in the mouth, cutting what The Atlantic and the Center for Budget Policy Priorities say is over 42% from the State higher ed budget over the past 5 years. Louisiana has cut the 4th most, by percentage, of any state in the union.
The budget cuts would be bad enough, but Jindal has repeatedly acted as if this isn’t a problem, because (wouldn’t you know it) he can just tax the families and students that attend our public schools. And since many get Federal loans to do so, Jindal is, in essence, bleeding the Federal taxpayers for EVEN MORE MONEY.
But this is typically Jindal. He does the same with health care, transportation and other quiet Federal transfers and entitlements. Jindal would never accept Federal funds publicly. But he will work the system, like a devious drug-addict, to squeeze more Federal dollars into his unbalanced budget.
In the case of (Jindal’s appointed) Louisiana’s higher ed leaders, they might have enough:
For the sixth year in a row, Louisiana’s public colleges and universities are girding for a state budget that once again takes an ax to their funding. Regents say they must brace for $209 million in cuts that are included in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal for the coming year and both higher education officials and legislators say they are equally concerned about the governor’s desire to use one-time money to prop up the state’s outlay.
Overall, about two-thirds of the $773.5 million the state has budgeted for higher education will come from nonrecurring revenue, such as proceeds from the future sales of public property. Some of that money has yet to materialize and perhaps never will, angering conservative lawmakers who oppose the use of such fiscal maneuvers and worrying university administrators who are trying to put together reliable spending plans for their campuses.
Meanwhile, the Jindal administration is suggesting that universities raise tuition, and that doing so would mean funding would remain the same as it was after mid-year cuts enacted in December.
According to Jindal’s $24.7 billion budget proposal, the state outlay for higher education in the fiscal year starting July 1 would draw $284.5 million from the state’s general fund, plus $489 million from sources that will be available only once, or expected collections that may not be as much as predicted.
And the kicker:
“All units (of higher education) will be at risk for reduction should any of these funds not materialize,” according to a report from the state Board of Regents, which coordinates all public higher education in Louisiana.
This crisis in higher ed is getting worse. And it isn’t just about the money. Jindal’s running LSU, our flagship university, into the ground. Bob Mann explains why here. LSU’s new president (after Jindal fired the old one, and many others, for complaining about budget cuts) was just foisted upon the school without any public consideration. The LSU Faculty Senate declared that they have no confidence in the Board of Supervisors. Lovely.
The sounds of thousands of razors scraping bumper stickers off of bumpers should be heard all over Louisiana.
The Louisiana Budget Project breaks down the meat of the Governor’s Sales Tax Swap proposal:
By David Gray
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate Louisiana’s corporate and personal income taxes relies on a fundamentally flawed economic analysis and is likely to hurt the state’s economy, not boost it as supporters claim. Proponents of the governor’s proposal are relying on a report called “Rich States, Poor States” to sell their plan to the public. But the report contains numerous distortions and omissions:
- While it claims that 62 percent of net U.S. job growth between 2002 and 2012 occurred in nine states with no income taxes, it fails to note that just one of those states, Texas, accounted for most of that job growth. The remaining eight states did not significantly differ from the rest of the country in job creation.
- The report fails to mention that Texas’ performance is largely due to factors unrelated to taxes, like its abundance of natural resources and geographic location along the trade-rich Mexican border.
- States with income taxes that are higher than Louisiana’s perform better on several important economic and quality-of-life indicators than their no-income-tax counterparts. For example, those states have greater median household incomes, higher household disposable incomes and more widespread health insurance coverage –none of which should be true if taxes were a primary factor in economic activity and well-being.
- State income taxes play a negligible role in business location and hiring decisions. Doing away with them will simply drain more resources from schools, health care, public safety and the other foundations of a strong economy, which are much more important to businesses looking to expand or relocate. The vast majority of the governor’s tax plan would benefit less than 2 percent of Louisiana’s companies, according to an analysis of tax information published by the Louisiana Department of Revenue. The overwhelming majority of small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs are unlikely to experience any tax savings. The windfall for those that do see savings is likely to be too small to allow more hiring or investments. In any case, there is no evidence that businesses add jobs because of income tax cuts. Furthermore, substantially increased sales taxes – which the governor would use to recoup revenue losses under his plan – are likely to reduce demand for goods, which would reduce production. Instead of eliminating income taxes and levying the highest sales taxes in the nation, the task for Louisiana’s elected officials is to seek ways to raise revenues beyond current levels and invest in public services like education, health care, transportation and public safety. These investments have a far greater potential to build the state’s economy and improve prosperity and well-being than the proposed income tax breaks.
According to the Advocate, Jindal’s dream to hike regressive sales taxes to pay for a tax cut for wealthy Louisianians wasn’t even born in Baton Rouge. No, in fact, Jindal’s clueless economic team has been scrambling to fill in the blanks of the plan with details plucked from the Washington, DC conservative think tank, the Tax Foundation. From the Advocate:
Stephen Moret, Jindal’s secretary of the state Department of Economic Development, said he probably has called the Tax Foundation more than anyone else in America…
The Tax Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based group, whose board includes executives with the some of the nation’s largest corporations and officials with political action groups that support national Republican candidates. It has advocated restrained government spending and lower taxes since its founding in 1937.
Even Chuckles Kleckley, Jindal’s House Speaker puppet was getting frustrated with the lack of details when Jindal first announced the policy almost 6 weeks ago.
Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, sent a letter to the Republican governor’s chief of staff, Paul Rainwater, requesting Jindal’s tax plan be delivered to the House by March 15. “I feel strongly that the House of Representatives should begin hearings on such an important issue,” wrote Kleckley, usually a Jindal ally. “The public needs sufficient time to review the actual proposed legislation in order for members to receive feedback from their constituency,” he said in the letter released by the speaker’s office.
According to the Advocate, the Jindal posse presented Leges with an abbreviated document during early meetings that focused on increasing the state’s “ranking” with business climate watchers:
Jindal handed out what was described as a “talking points memo” to legislators who attended discussions at the Governor’s Mansion about a proposal to radically change how the state collects taxes to pay for services. At the very top of the memo, which he collected at the end of the meeting, a heading entitled “A Framework for Comprehensive Tax Reform” predicted that if the restructuring proposals were approved, “it is projected to increase our Tax Foundation rankings, which many businesses use to make site decisions, from number 32 to number 4.”
Jindal’s massive tax burden shift, from the wealthy to the middle-class and poor, is based on increasing a ranking. Sounds about right. What’s wrong with that?
The efforts of Jindal’s aides to increase Louisiana’s rankings in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index caught the attention of economist Robert Tannenwald in his Feb. 25 analysis published in State Tax Notes, a professional magazine.
“They asked the Foundation to suggest reforms that would lift the state’s ranking. The Foundation obliged with several proposals, notably to eliminate the state’s personal, corporate and franchise taxes and to increase its sales tax. Jindal decided to run with it,” wrote Tannenwald, a former Federal Reserve Bank economist who now teaches public policy and budgeting at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass.
Tannenwald found “especially disconcerting” the high weight the Tax Foundation put on the elimination of personal income taxes, which he argued not only skewed the findings, but did not best represent what businesses looked at when looking at the bottom line.
A Washington, DC think tank filling in the blanks for a half-baked idea that Jindal decided to “run with” in order to bolster his standing with 2016 Republican primary voters in Iowa. What was it Jindal said about listening to Washington?
It seems like the only person that should be listening to Jindal’s voluminous advice from the “stupid party” is…Jindal.
When will Governor Jindal come clean about his core ideology? Politics is full of “strategic dishonesty”. That much we understand. Yet, Jindal’s use of this double-speak is only thinning the ice under his own feet.
Jindal has balanced the state budget with a combination of three main factors: federal funds (which he claims to despise), “one-time” non-reoccuring revenue (like using gambling winnings to pay your phone bill), and sunny revenue projections (or “wishing” for money).
It’s the magical Jindal budget dance. Here’s how you do it!
Guzzle Federal funds, raid dedicated cash caches, auction state property, and then wish the state would collect more tax revenue.
Mortgaging the future for the present works when you have a limited term and have aspirations for future office. By the time all the cuts, auctions, and gimmicks come home to roost, you’re out of there. At least that’s what Bobby hopes.
Higher-Ed has been absorbing tragic cuts since Jindal took office. Rhetoric claiming the future of Louisiana depends on an educated workforce and robust research and development necessarily ring hollow in the face of these cuts. This year, it’s even worse. Jindal’s budget hedges higher-ed cuts with projected tuition increases (just another shadow tax increase), asset sales (especially overvaluing those assets), and pillaging of other funds. Or in other words, in money that doesn’t yet exist in the budget:
Jindal’s budget drops $424 million in piecemeal financing into higher education, leaving colleges mired in the annual legislative debate over the appropriate ways to craft the state’s budget.
If the fiscal hawks are successful in stripping all or part of the patchwork money, higher education could be on the chopping block. Without those dollars, colleges would face a 19 percent hit to their funding, according to the governor’s Division of Administration.
Perhaps Jindal administration budget planners assumed that by plugging all that one-time money into higher education, college officials would help plead the administration’s case for using the financing.
Or maybe administration leaders think lawmakers would be less likely to strip dollars from colleges than from other areas of state government.
Some pots of money used in Jindal’s budget are subject to continuing disagreements with lawmakers and others, making them far from certain to pan out.
…For example, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and area lawmakers vow to fight plans that would take $100 million from the city convention center’s reserve fund and plug it into the state’s budget for higher education.
The Jindal administration pledges to backfill the money from the state’s construction budget, but the pool of money for construction work has its own shortages and uncertainties.
Louisiana believes. A budget on a wing and a prayer. When the music stops this year, will Higher Ed be the one without a seat?
Jindal’s strategy is systemic and corrosive. And the Governor is truely out on a limb in terms of his approach. Fellow statewide officials are backing away from his fiscal leadership. Treasurer Kennedy has been a long opponent of Jindal’s budgeting, but it looks as though he isn’t alone anymore. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne vocalizes similar problems for the State Parks:
“This is the dog chasing its tail,” Dardenne said.
For Louisiana and Jindal, this could be the year that the dog finally catches it.
Kristy Nichols: 'We didn't present a truly balanced budget because we couldn't' (or 'down the old rabbit hole'---again)
By STEPHEN WINHAM
The long-awaited Jindal administration proposal to balance the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget was released yesterday (February 22). The most surprising thing about it was its almost complete lack of surprises. Once again, we were presented with a budget that uses one-time money, contingencies, and outright conjecture, along with increased college tuition, to create the illusion of a balanced budget that does little or no harm.