Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

There comes a time when those surround Bobby Jindal must return to earth and come to grips with a realistic fact about their boy.

Pick one:

  1. He cannot seriously consider himself real presidential timber;
  2. His quest for POTUS is simply a cruel joke he’s playing on the rest of us;
  3. He told an unforgivable lie when he said, “I have the job I want”;
  4. He has no clue as to how to govern a state, let along an entire nation;
  5. The little boy should never try on big boy pants;
  6. He may actually be qualified to lead the Stupid Party;
  7. All of the above.

The correct answer is….well, you know.

As Jindal’s numbers continue to shrink to less than single-digits in GOP presidential preference polls, his efforts to garner attention have ramped up accordingly and in the process, have made him a national—if not international—laughingstock.

His handlers should take note and rein him in—for his own sake. While once fun to watch him as he writhes and issues forth preposterous utterances, people are starting to exchange nervous, embarrassed glances. It’s kind of like the drunk uncle you want to keep away from reunions, weddings, funerals and any other social gatherings—at all costs—in order to prevent his bringing further shame on the family.

That’s what happens when you have someone who doesn’t know when to shut up or when he’s had too much to drink—in Jindal’s case, some unknown Kickapoo ego-boosting joy juice that has him convinced he’s democracy’s answer to the rest of the world (Hint: George W. Bush already tried that and it didn’t work).

In recent weeks, we have seen the following:

And even before the recent rash of brashness on his part, Jindal set the tone right after the 2012 presidential election loss by Mitt Romney when he said the Republican Party needed to “stop being the stupid party.” http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/279243-jindal-republicans-must-stop-being-the-stupid-party

There seems to be no end to his string of banalities—unless one wishes to include his duties as governor of Louisiana. In that case, he appears to have punted, to have taken a powder, abdicated, as it were.

But for the true picture of the depth of his silliness, we need to go all the way back to February 2, 2005, and then-President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address—a full four years before Jindal’s disastrous Republican response to the Obama State of the Union Address.

The 2005 Jindal was in stark contrast to the January 2015 Jindal.

In 2005, then-U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal drew national attention (what else is new?) when he provided a bowl of purple ink for members of Congress to dip their index fingers in and to hold the fingers aloft during Bush’s address as a show of solidarity with Iraqi citizens who had voted in elections in that country. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1683&dat=20050203&id=GSQqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Q0UEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6546,792517

“We all watched with joy as Iraqis dipped their fingers in ink and held them high, proudly proclaiming to the world that they had voted,” Jindal said rather naively in a letter to fellow congressmen as he somewhat prematurely launched his one-man celebration of the birth of democracy in Iraq.

That was then.

This is now:

That experiment in democracy apparently did not take in Iraq as the country anticipates a bloodbath between the Sunni and Shiite factions, a rift that pre-dates American democracy by some 1100 years and shows no signs of going away. http://www.cfr.org/peace-conflict-and-human-rights/sunni-shia-divide/p33176#!/

As if that were not enough, our friend C.B. Forgotston points out that today’s (Monday) Baton Rouge Advocate quotes Louisiana Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield as saying that he “has already been in talks with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to see if the group would consider replacing revenue lost from local inventory taxes with increased collection of remote sales tax revenue neutral.http://theadvocate.com/news/11837337-123/st-james-leaders-brace-for

That’s correct. The administration consults with Norquist before making any decision on the state’s budgetary matters or before even going to the restroom. A governor who is the self-proclaimed expert on all matters dealing with foreign policy apparently cannot make a decision on Louisiana issues without the nod of approval of the most powerful unelected official in America. As Forgotston pointed out this morning, “A group out of D.C. is in talks with Team Jindal on how to tax us.  If the legislators had any courage or self-respect, they’d shut this down NOW!” You simply can’t make this stuff up, he says.

But, hey, our governmental sage has a bowl of purple ink for anyone who’s interested.

To paraphrase our former governor Bobby Jindal, “at the end of the day,” you have “two things:”

  • One, we have a man who, though he repeated ad-nauseam during his first term that he “has the job he wanted” and then proceeded to spend all of his second term chasing the job he really wants to such a degree as to abandon any pretense of being governor.
  • Two, by admitting that the administration has been in talks with Grover Norquist, the tea party guru who doesn’t even live in Louisiana and never has, Barfield has openly acknowledged what we all knew: that Jindal has never—repeat, never—been his own man, and never will be. He is beholden to big business and the no-tax-under-any-condition mantra that the corporate world cherishes.

We can only conclude that he has been snorting too much Koch.

Read Full Post »

It’s one thing when Gov. Bobby scoots off to Iowa or Georgia or appears at a CPAC conference or on Faux News to spin his laughable look how great I am distortions about the “Louisiana Miracle.” It’s quite another when respected publications like the Washington Post or the New York Times, or even USA Today (aka McNewspaper) allow him space in their op-ed pages to spread his bovine excrement.

Gov. Bobby’s latest attempt to give unsuspecting readers and blind loyalists in the other 49 states his view of Louisiana through those rose-colored glasses is an op-ed in USA Today in which he, apparently oblivious to shame or any sense of irony, bloviates that he has succeeded in his promise “to make the economy bigger and the government smaller” and that he accomplished “what the federal government has failed to do.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/03/08/tax-cuts-louisiana-gov-bobby-jindal-editorials-debates/24613069/

If you’re into gallows humor, you’ll love these excerpts from his piece which, if we didn’t know better, was written for Comedy Central rather than a national newspaper. Here are a few of the accomplishments for which he takes credit and which the rest of us somehow missed:

  • Balanced budgets. (WTF? Does a $1.6 billion deficit looked balanced to anyone else? Does patching the budget all seven years of his administration with one-time money appear “balanced”?)
  • (We have) over 30,000 fewer state workers, than when we took office in 2008. Well, not quite. The actual figures, according to the Department of Civil Service, show that 13,577 positions have been abolished and 8,396 state employees have been laid off. The difference between abolished positions and layoffs can be attributed to targeting vacant positions for abolishment. So the actual reduction in the number of employees is 72 percent lower than his claims. Just another Jindal lie.ELIMINATED STATE POSITIONS BY YEAR
  • Louisiana’s economy is stronger than ever. (Wait. What? The last time we looked, the median household income in Louisiana was eighth lowest in the nation and our poverty rate the third highest with 10.7 percent of all households reporting an income of less than $10,000 per year.
  • Louisiana has received eight credit rating upgrades. (Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor are threatening to degrade the state’s credit rating. Sarah Palin’s lipstick on a pig comment comes to mind here. It would be interesting to see how you square your pontifications with the facts here.)
  • Louisiana’s economy has grown nearly twice as fast as the national economy. (Quite simply, a lie. All surveys show the state’s economic growth rate to be slower than the nation as a whole and the state is generally ranked 34th. In fact the nation’s GDP growth in 2013 was 1.8 percent, compared to Louisiana’s 1.3 percent. Even Mississippi’s was higher.)
  • We have outlined ways to minimize budget reductions to vital services such as higher education and health care. (Tuition at state colleges has increased 52 percent, eighth highest in the nation, since Gov. Bobby took office and his refusal to accept Medicaid expansion has deprived health care to 270,000 Louisiana residents and forced the closure of one of Baton Rouge’s busiest emergency rooms.) http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4135
  • “I do not measure Louisiana’s success by the prosperity of our government. I measure it by the prosperity of our people.” (That being the case, you are a colossal flop as a leader, politician, governor, and as a human being because it is your policies that have mired this state in the mud of mediocrity. You have deliberately set this state on a disastrous course—a course which you, for whatever reasons, continue to defend—of destruction. You have destroyed higher education, you have destroyed health care, you have destroyed the state’s infrastructure, you have destroyed the economy, you have destroyed a $500 million reserve fund set aside to guarantee uninterrupted medical care for state employees, retirees and their dependents, you have obliterated a $1 billion surplus when you took office seven years ago, somehow turning it into a $1.6 billion deficit. And worse than all that, you have turned your back on your people and the job they elected you to do so that you might continue on your fool’s errand of chasing an impossible dream of become president while the metaphorical crops rot in the fields back home.)

As a means of returning to reality, Gov. Bobby might wish to take a look at the USA Today poll that accompanied his latest work of fiction. At last check by LouisianaVoice, the poll showed that 13 percent of readers strongly agreed with Gov. Bobby while 3 percent simply agreed. Two percent had no clue while 9 percent disagreed and 73 percent strongly disagreed. Bottom line: 16 percent were in accord on some level with what he wrote while a whopping 82 percent weren’t buying.

Gov. Bobby, it should be pointed out, has opposed equal pay for women, rejected grants that would have gone to early childhood development and to expand broadband internet services in rural areas of the state, rejected a federal grant to help develop a high-speed rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and robbed funds from state agencies in order to patch over budget holes—things he never mentions in those stand up comedy acts at CPAC or in his op-ed pieces.

Even USA Today, apparently feeling some remorse for giving Gov. Bobby a stage on which to spew his rhetoric, was compelled to run its own piece in which it pointed out that not all is well in the land of gumbo and Mardi Gras. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/03/08/tax-cuts-state-louisiana-gov-jindal-kansas-gov-brownback-editorials-debates/24616613/

“Louisiana’s jobless rate has gone from much better than the national rate in 2008 to much worse,” the paper said, adding that Gov. Bobby “cherry-picks the years” on the economic growth rates and “doesn’t mention that since 2010, the state has lagged behind the national recovery.”

Pointing out that both Louisiana and Kansas have implemented huge tax cuts, USA Today says, “The results have been dismal. Growth has been sluggish in both states, and the plunge in revenue has devastated both states’ budgets.”

Recently, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Gov. Bobby spent 45 percent of 2014 outside the state as he chased the Republican president nomination. Jim Beam, writing in the Lake Charles American Press, said that in addition to becoming a national and international political critic, Gov. Bobby “continued to tell the rest of the world how great things were going back home. His listeners seldom bothered to check the facts.” http://www.americanpress.com/Beam-column-3-8-15

Beam, who has been around the state’s political scene for decades, noted that under Gov. Bobby, tax credits, exemptions and breaks given to business and industry which were projected to produce increased state revenue have not done so despite a cost of almost $7 billion per year.

After enduring seven years of non-stop sliding into economic and political oblivion under this administration, we have some unsolicited advice for Gov. Bobby:

Your term of office will end in approximately 10 months. Back the U-Haul up to the governor’s mansion, pile your belongings in it and hit I-10 and keep going. Don’t stop until you have settled in Iowa, New Hampshire, at some think tank in Washington, or on the Faux News set. Anywhere but Louisiana. Take Timmy Teepell, LABI apologist Steve Waguespack (who apparently does not believe in the First Amendment and who believes a college professor has no right to an opinion or the right to write a political column on his own time), and Kristy Nichols with you.

And please, whatever you do….don’t come back.

….And there’s really no need to wait until next January since you’ve already quit.

Read Full Post »

Senator Daniel R. Martiny's Picture

STATE SEN. DAN MARTINY

C.B. Forgotston may have opened a can of worms…with the unwitting help of State Sen. Dan Martiny (R-Metairie)—and much to Martiny’s chagrin.

Forgotston, you see, is an independent old cuss who used to work for the legislature and he has been serving for a number of years now as an unofficial overseer of all things state government and few events escape his skeptical critique of the actions and motives of elected officials, particularly legislators, or as he calls them, leges.

Called “King of Subversive Bloggers” by no less an expert on cynicism than Baton Rouge Advocate columnist James Gill, Forgotston is beholden to no one and any leges who crosses swords with him does so at his own peril.

Martiny may have found out the hard way when he sent this email to Forgotston Sunday around 4:16 p.m. informing C.B. that his emails to the good senator were no longer welcomed:

From: “Martiny, Sen. (Chamber Laptop)” <dmartiny@legis.la.gov>

To: “C.B. Forgotston” Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2015 16:16:34 -0600 Subject:

Re: Where’s Buddy?

Take me off your list until u do something positive about anyone.

Martiny was responding to Forgotston’s “Where’s Buddy” post in which he took Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to task for the AG’s reluctance to do his job in telling the Caddo Parish Commissioners they are in violation of the Louisiana State Constitution by virtue of their illegal participation in the Caddo Parish retirement system.

Forgotston noted that Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera has done his job in saying commissioners’ participation in the retirement system is illegal but Caldwell, as has been his M.O. since taking office, has been strangely quiet on public corruption.

And while there is certainly nothing wrong in going after free-lance pharmaceutical salesmen (drug dealers), child pornographers and the like, Caldwell has displayed an obvious dislike for making waves in the political waters and has steadfastly run from public corruption cases.

And we know that while the 1974 State Constitution took much of the prosecutorial duties from the attorney general, the AG is still the legal adviser for all state agencies and if nothing else, Caldwell should step forward and whisper in officials’ ears when they are seen skirting the edge of the law. (Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols’ open violation of the state’s public records law comes immediately to mind. So does Auctioneer Board attorney Larry Bankston’s advice to the board to actually refuse to release public records.)

But we digress.

If you notice, Martiny’s message for C.B. to delete future mailings to him was written on his Senate chamber laptop, which some might interpret as an unwillingness on his part to hear from citizens on matters that concern them.

“My periodic mailings address issues of concern to me primarily about state and local government,” Forgotston said on Monday.

“The mailings are sent to each lege via a public server owned by taxpayers. The address to which it is sent is also provided by the taxpayers.”

Forgotston said that after a “gentle reminder,” Martiny, an attorney, relented and acknowledged the provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Other leges may not be as familiar with the First Amendment as is Martiny,” he said. “As a public service, here is some background on the First Amendment which leges might find useful in dealing with members of the public.

“The First Amendment states, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’” (Emphasis Forgotston’s)

The right to freedom of speech, he says, “allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. (Emphasis Forgotston’s)

“The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action. (Emphasis Forgotston’s)

“Not only do we have a right to contact the leges regarding matters of government, they are prohibited from interfering with our exercise of that right,” Forgotston said. “That includes the blocking of emails as some leges have done in the past.

“Any lege not wishing to receive my communications, please forward me a copy of your letter of resignation from the lege and you will be promptly removed from all future mailings.”

Now, just to give you a little background on Sen. Martiny, who:

  • Fought a bill by State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) which would have prevent legislators from leaving the House or Senate and taking six-figure jobs in order to boost their state retirement. It’s worth noting that several legislators had been appointed to cushy state jobs by the Gov. Bobby administration. Noble Ellington of Winnsboro was named second in command at the Louisiana State Department of Insurance at $150,000 per year; Jane Smith of Bossier City was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Department of Revenue ($107,500), though she admitted she knew nothing about taxes or revenue; Troy Hebert of Jeanerette was named Commissioner of the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board ($107,500); Kay Katz of Monroe, named to the Louisiana Tax Commission ($56,000); former St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis named Director of Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness ($165,000), and former St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro was appointed Director of Hazard Mitigation and Recovery ($150,000).
  • Pushed through an amendment that gutted Senate Bill 84 by Sen. Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa), a bill originally designed to protect vulnerable borrowers from predatory payday lenders. Nevers sought to cap payday loan annual interest rates at 36 percent which was an effective way to rein in those lenders who were charging annual percentage rates of up to 700 percent. Martiny’s amendment removed the APR cap and instead simply limited borrowers to 10 short-term loans each year.
  • Pushed through a bill that was subsequently signed by Gov. Bobby which prohibited state contractors from entering into agreements with labor unions, prohibited public entities from remaining neutral toward any labor organization, and prohibited the payment of predetermined or prevailing wages.
  • Introduced a bill that was subsequently signed by Gov. Bobby which re-created 17 state boards, offices and commissions. Louisiana already has far more boards and commissions than any other state but apparently no one saw a need for reducing the number.
  • Introduced a bill subsequently signed into law by Gov. Bobby that gave judges on state district courts, courts of appeal and the Louisiana Supreme court pay raises ranging from 3.7 percent to 5.5 percent—even as Louisiana civil service employees were forced to go without a pay raise for the third straight year.
  • Introduced but later withdrew a bill that would have allowed the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (DED) the authority to offer air carriers a rebate of up to $500 annually for each incremental international passenger flying to or from a state airport for a period of up to five years.
  • Introduced a bill allowing DED to offer tax credits refundable against corporate income and corporate franchise taxes for businesses agreeing to undertake activities to increase the number of visitors to the state by at least 100,000 per year. (We’re beginning to see the problem with the state’s economic incentive tax breaks here).
  • Introduced a bill to provide tax credits for solar energy systems of up to 50 percent of all costs.
  • Introduced a bill that would have allowed the Commissioner of Insurance to fire the Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy without cause.

Let’s examine that very last one again. Louisiana law provides for the appointment of a deputy commissioner of consumer advocacy by the Commissioner of Insurance.

This is important, provided that person is wholly independent of Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon who gets the bulk of his campaign finances from insurance companies he is supposed to regulate.

Donelon, obviously, cannot be expected to ride herd over his benefactors. That’s just not the way politics works in Louisiana. So a consumer advocate in the department is critical—especially after all those stories about Allstate and State Farm denying legitimate claims from Hurricane Katrina and other tactics such as the Delay, Deny, Defend strategy as taught the insurance companies by Gov. Bobby’s former employer, McKinsey & Co.

The law provides that the consumer advocate may be terminated only for cause.

But Martiny wanted to change that and though the bill did not pass, one has to wonder about his motives.

To learn that, you’d probably have to email him at dmartiny@legis.la.gov

Read Full Post »

75b6e117b785e594d770c9bcc52fd34e_2phq_lt4o[1]

(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

“That clanking sound you heard,” says blogger C. B. Forgotston, “was Louisiana’s proverbial fiscal can hitting the end of the road.” And he has been around state government long enough to know the signs.

“Like a kid behaving badly, we’ve been placed on probation,” added State Treasurer John Kennedy.

Both men’s assessments were in response to the double whammy of two investor rating services’—Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s—action to move Louisiana’s credit outlook from stable to negative on Friday and to threaten the more severe action of a downgrade.

“This should be a wake-up call that we need to stop spending more than we take in,” Kennedy said.  “We’ve drained our trust funds, we’ve relied on nonrecurring money and we’ve had to cut the budget in the middle of the fiscal year for too many years now.  Many have been warning that this day would arrive, and it has.”

The dual action by the two ratings services impacts $2.7 billion in outstanding general obligation debt and $1.25 billion in related debt.

Moody’s warned that continued structural imbalances, steep growth in pension costs, deterioration in financial liquidity and failure to contain costs in the state’s Medicaid system will result in a credit rating downgrade, making it more costly for the state to borrow money.

S & P added a warning that “Should budget adjustments fail to focus on recurring solutions or if the structural gap grows with continued declines in revenue or material reductions in federal program funding to the state, we could lower the rating” even further.

Gov. Bobby immediately attempted to put a positive spin on the bad news (or as Forgotston described it, tried to pour perfume on the manure pile to change the smell but not the content) by saying that the agencies didn’t lower the ratings on the existing outstanding General Obligation bonds.

But what Gov. Bobby did not say, according to Forgotston, was that the rating on those bonds was not lowered because the Louisiana State Constitution gives those bonds first call, even before employee retirement benefits, on all the money in the state treasury. “In other words, if the state goes bankrupt, those bonds will be paid,” he said, adding that future state borrowing will also cost more.

It could also mean that in the event of default, retirees won’t be getting their pension checks, something that should get the gray panthers up in arms.

At this point, we feel it important to point out—just in case anyone still needs reminding—that Gov. Bobby has been traveling all over the country (well, mainly to Iowa and Washington, D.C.) spewing his rhetoric about how he has cut the number of state employees, how Louisiana’s economy is out-performing other states, how new industry is locating to Louisiana, and how little it costs to attend LSU.

Except it’s all part of his big lie—except, of course, the part about hauling state workers out to the curb.

But if he is so hell-bent on claiming and then taking credit for all these wonderful events and trends (of course he never mentions the state’s high poverty rate, poor health care availability, our second lowest median household income, the eighth lowest percentage of citizens with a bachelor’s degree or higher, or our fifth highest violent crime rate), then he must shoulder the blame for the bad news as well.

Any coach will tell you that’s the way the game is played; if you take credit for the wins, you have to take the blame for the losses.

And of course, he never, never does that. Everything out of his mouth is about all the great accomplishments of his administration, and always spouted off in such rapid-fire fashion as to give little chance for argument from dissenters. It’s his style to overwhelm with statistics quoted by rote in his boring staccato delivery.

Well, Bobby, your rhetoric—and for that matter, you as well—are wearing a little thin.

The doubt began creeping in here in Louisiana midway of your first term and has continued to build until now the national media have caught on. Only last week, three or four national stories revealed the pitiful shape you are leaving our state in for your unfortunate successor to attempt to clean up.

Unfortunately, whoever follows you will most likely be a one-term governor because no one can clean up your mess in a single term and the voters are likely to grow weary of whoever is unfortunate enough to follow you and turn him or her out of office after four years in a desperate attempt to find a quick solution that in reality may take decades. You have set this state back that far (Thank you, Gov. Mike Foster for inflicting this plague upon us).

And, Gov. Bobby, you can just mothball your national political ambitions. Being President is a far distant fantasy by now and any prospects of a cabinet position are just as surely disappearing like so much sand through your fingers. You can now only accept that you will go down as one of, if not the most vilified governor in the history of this state. You have succeeded, by comparison, in making Earl Long appear to have been in full control of his mental faculties back in 1959.

And lest anyone think we are giving the legislature a free pass on this situation, think again. With only a handful of exceptions, those of you in the House and Senate have been complicit in this charade of governance. You have aided and abetted this pitiful excuse of a chief executive who, while pandering repeatedly that he had the job he wanted, nevertheless plunged full speed ahead toward his fool’s errand of seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Why, his own family was talking openly of his becoming President—at his first inauguration way back in 2008!

Moody’s and S &P were each quite thorough in laying out the reasoning for their simultaneous actions on Friday.

Moody’s said its action reflects a $1.6 billion structural deficit, continued budget gaps, the state’s large Medicaid caseload, job growth below the national average and significant unfunded pension liabilities.  “The negative outlook reflects the state’s growing structural budget imbalance, projected at $1.6 billion for fiscal 2016, or about 18% of the $8.7 billion general fund even after significant budget cuts of recent years,” Moody’s said. “The state has options for reducing the imbalance, including scaling back various tax credit programs, but the overall scale of balancing measures needed may further deplete resources and reduce the state’s liquidity, which has been one of its strengths.”

S & P was no kinder, citing Gov. Bobby’s reliance on non-recurring revenue which it said only served to increase future budgetary pressures. “In our view, the state’s focus on structural solutions to its general fund budget challenges will be a key determinant of its future credit stability.

“We could consider revising the outlook back to stable if revenue trends stabilize and if Louisiana makes material progress in aligning its recurring revenues and expenditures on a timely basis with a focus on recurring solutions. Should budget adjustments fail to focus on recurring solutions or if the structural gap grows with continued declines in revenue or material reductions in federal program funding to the state, we could lower the rating,” S & P said.

Forgotston, in his own unique way, tells us what Moody’s and S & P were really telling us: “Bobby, you and the legislators have made a big ‘number-two’ mess in your fiscal pants and we have no faith in your ability to clean it up. Folks, don’t let the legislators try to fool you; this is very bad news for us taxpayers and the legislators are the reason for it.”

Yes, it’s easy to blame Gov. Bobby because he has in his seven years initiated every Ponzi scheme one could imagine from giving away something like $11 billion in tax incentives (according to one recent story), to giving away the state’s charity hospitals, to robbing the Office of Group Benefits reserve fund, to attempting to rob the state’s retirement system, to refusing federal grants for needed projects, to rejecting Medicaid expansion and thus depriving the state’s indigent population access to decent health care which in turn led directly to the announced closure of the emergency room of a major Baton Rouge hospital. The list goes on.

But, as Gov. Bobby is so fond of saying, at the end of the day, it was the legislature, through the “leadership” of Senate President John Alario, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin that allowed him to do it by refusing to grow a collective set and stand up to this vindictive little amateur dictator.

This is an election year and Louisiana voters—particularly state employees, former state employees who have lost their jobs because of Gov. Bobby, teachers, retirees and the state’s working poor would do well to remember what this governor has done to them and which legislators voted to support the administration’s carnage inflicted upon this state.

There are those few in the House and Senate who have spoken up and tried to be the voices of reason but those voices have been drowned out by Gov. Bobby’s spinmeisters.

So when you vote for governor next fall, you would do well to ignore the TV commercials bought by those who want only to continue down this same path of economic destruction and growing income disparity and consider who you believe really has the best interest of the state, and not the special interests, at heart. In other words, think for yourselves instead of letting some ad agency do your thinking for you.

If you don’t get your collective heads out of the sand and in the most emphatic manner you can muster, tell your neighbors, your friends, your family, the clerk at the store where you shop for food and clothing, the cashier at the restaurant where you eat what this governor and this legislature have done to you and to them, then come next fall, you have no one to blame but yourselves.

The time for joking about Gov. Bobby is over. We’re at the end game now.

Read Full Post »

The Baton Rouge Advocate last December ran an excellent eight-part series on Giving Away Louisiana in which the paper examined inventory tax rebates, movie tax credits, Enterprise Zone tax credits, solar energy subsidies, fracking incentives and the state’s 10-year property tax exemptions, all of which combine to gut the state treasury of billions of dollars in tax revenue.

We took a little different approach.

Sometimes all one has to do to illustrate the folly of Louisiana’s corporate tax exemptions and tax credits is do the math.

The theory in Baton Rouge is that such tax breaks create jobs which in turn produce taxes for the state coffers through consumer spending and state income taxes, thus making the exemptions and credits a win-win for everyone concerned.

Take the five-year tax credit awarded in 2013 to Lakeview Regional Medical Center in St. Tammany Parish for an upgrade to its hospital facilities, for example. In exchange for the creation of five new jobs with a new five-year payroll of $1 million, Lakeview was awarded $330,000 in Enterprise Zone tax credits. (A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of a tax liability meaning a $1 tax credit reduces one’s taxes by a full dollar.)

Broken down, that comes to $200,000 per year in new payroll, or an average of $40,000 per new employee per year against a tax credit of $66,000 per year.

At Louisiana’s 4 percent tax rate for that income bracket for a family of three, that means the state will rake in $4,000 per year total for all five employees ($800 each). http://www.tax-brackets.org/louisianataxtable

For a single employee, the state income tax revenue increases to $5,650 for all five employees ($1,130 each), still a far cry from the $66,000 per year in tax credits awarded to the hospital.

Obviously, the new employees will spend money locally which will generate local and state sales tax revenues, but it will take a lot of income and sales taxes from five employees to make up for the loss of $66,000 per year over that five-year period.

Louisiana, meanwhile continues to offer inducements to business and industry that defy logic—projects like the $152,000 Enterprise Zone five-year tax credit for Wal-Mart. Enterprise Zone credits are awarded ostensibly for businesses to locate in areas of high unemployment.

This Wal-Mart, however, was built in St. Tammany Parish, one of the most affluent areas of the state. And Wal-Mart pays low wages, has been cutting back on offering medical benefits for its employees and last March, the EEOC filed a an age and disability discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart stores in Texas.

In this case, the total five-year payroll for the 65 new jobs created by the new Wal-Mart was $2.78 million, or about $8,550 per year per employee. The federal poverty level for a single person is $11,670 per year and $19,790 for a family of three. That means the typical Wal-Mart employee in Louisiana is eligible for food stamps and Medicare/Medicaid–at state expense. The 2014 That salary for a family of three produces a state income tax of $21 ($41 for a married person with no children or $61 for a single employee claiming only him/herself).

The total taxes owed, depending on marital status and number of dependents, would range from $1,365 to $3,965 for all 65 employees, or between $6,825 and $19,825 for the five years of the Enterprise Zone tax credit—a far cry from the $152,000 tax credit awarded Wal-Mart.

In 2013 alone, Entergy, the electric-utility holding company with total assets of $43.4 billion and which provides electricity throughout south Louisiana and parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas, received 21 separate 10-year property tax exemptions totaling $115 million while creating….not a single new job.

Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard received $27.3 million in compensation in 2009 and that same year, Entergy directors awarded him an additional $15,871 to pay part of his 2008 federal income taxes. The question here might be: how many Entergy employees did the directors help with their federal income taxes?

All this from a company that, after independent audits of charges, had to refund nearly $3.4 million to the New Orleans Sewer and Water Board in 1992 ($1 million), the City of New Orleans in 1993 and 1994 ($2.2 million), the New Orleans Superdome Mall ($70,000) and LSU ($90,000).

While state income taxes are not the only barometer in calculating the impact of corporate tax breaks (state and local sales taxes paid by those employed as a result of the incentives, for example, would add to the equation), but just taking state income taxes for a typical family of three or four, this what LouisianaVoice found:

  • The state gave 10-year Quality Job payroll rebates of an estimated $40.85 million in 2013 against projects creating 1,357 new jobs with a combined new 10-year payroll of $680.85 million. That comes out to an average salary of $49,700 per year. For an employee married, filing jointly and with 3 exemptions (including him/herself) that comes to an average state income tax of $1,008 per year—or a 10-year total of $13.7 million total for all 1,357 employees. So, the state collects somewhere between $13.7 million and $20.6 million (depending on marital status and dependents) against payroll rebates of $40.85 million over 10 years—a net loss to the state of about $20 million.
  • The state gave five-year Enterprise Zone tax credits totaling $19.6 million during 2013 for projects producing 4,857 new jobs with a combined five-year, new job payroll of $658.3 million, an annual average salary of only $26,900—an average state income tax liability of $400 per employee which, over a five-year period, produces about $9.7 million to $10 million in state income taxes—against tax credits of $19.6 million, or a net loss of $9.6 million to $9.9 million to the state over the five year life of the tax credit.
  • But the real kicker is the 10-year property tax exemption of $790 million in 2013. For that, 3,696 new jobs were created with a new 10-year payroll of $1.84 billion, or about $184 million per year, which comes out to $49,780 per new employee per year. That salary would produce an average state income tax liability of about $1,200 per year per new employee, or about $44.4 million over 10 years, a loss to the state of more than $750 million over 10 years. By these calculations, it would take something like 17.5 years of state income taxes from these 3,696 employees to make up for the $790 million in lost property taxes.

These three programs combined for a net loss to the state of about $80 million per year just in state income and property taxes. And that doesn’t even include the movie and TV credits or tax abatements, the inventory tax rebates, and the other incentives. So, since Jindal has been in office, the state has given away well over $5 billion dollars in Enterprise Zone, Quality Jobs, and 10-year property tax exemption programs without coming anywhere near recovering that amount in individual taxes paid by employees of those corporations who nevertheless are called upon to shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of government not borne by their employers.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,834 other followers

%d bloggers like this: