When Gov. John Bel Edwards clipped the wings of the state’s largest tax break, the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, during his first term in office, he let local governments get a cut of the billions in tax revenues that manufacturers previously didn’t have to pay.
But with the governor’s second term winding down, and a Republican expected to replace him in the 2023 election, advocates are pushing to make Edwards’ changes permanent lest they be thrown out in a couple years.
The debate over whether to set Edwards’ changes in stone will play out in the upcoming legislative session, which begins March 14th. State Sen. Rogers Pope, a Denham Springs Republican and former schools superintendent, filed a constitutional amendment that would require two-thirds approval in both the House and Senate, along with a vote of the people. It’s a high hurdle. But if approved, it would enshrine Edwards’ changes to the ITEP incentive in the state constitution, making them difficult to throw out in the future.
The bill sets up an intriguing political battle.
On one side will be the powerful business lobby, led by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which has long argued Edwards’ changes to ITEP are sending manufacturing jobs to other states. LABI and other business groups like the Louisiana Chemical Association, which also opposes Pope’s bill, hold considerable sway among the Republican-dominated Legislature.
But the proponents of the bill, which include the advocacy group Together Louisiana, also have influential voices on their side. The formidable Louisiana Sheriffs Association supports the legislation, and the Police Jury Association is likely to support it once it meets as a group Friday, said Guy Cormier, head of the association. School boards and the Louisiana Municipal Association are also … Continue Reading Full Story >>>