The State of Louisiana is in an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Unprecedented, as in, it’s never been this bad before. Clancy DuBos, a New Orleans journalist, brings even worse news:
A common refrain among some lawmakers in Baton Rouge these days is that we should “look forward” and stop blaming former Gov. Bobby Jindal for Louisiana’s unprecedented fiscal crisis. If those lawmakers were to read the latest annual report by the Legislative Auditor, they’d change their tune.
According to the auditor, the Jindal Administration failed to timely file the vast majority of statutorily required reports on more than $1 billion a year in tax incentive giveaways for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
“We found that three of the six agencies that administer tax incentives submitted reports as of March 23, 2015. As a result, the Legislature only received information on five of the 79 tax incentives administered by these agencies,” the auditor’s report states on page 17.
“In addition, of the 79 tax incentive reports agencies were required to submit to the Legislature by March 1, 2014, 70 (89%) either were not submitted or did not comply with all of the reporting requirements. According to the Department of Revenue’s Tax Exemption Budgets, the revenue loss from tax incentives claimed in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 for which agencies provided no information or did not comply with reporting requirements totaled approximately $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively.”
You read that correctly: $1.1 billion for fiscal year 2013 and $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2014.
There’s our budget deficit right there, folks.
Jindal didn’t create this mess alone, however. Democrat as well as Republican legislators aided and abetted his malfeasance.
To be clear, those “tax incentives” are actually expenditures. If lawmakers opt to eliminate any of them, it won’t be a tax increase, it will be a reduction in spending. In that respect, we can all agree that Louisiana indeed has “a spending problem.” We’re spending way too much on corporate giveaways.
The auditor’s report summarizes 36 audits conducted in 2015 and identifies some $1.8 billion in questionable expenditures — the vast majority of them corporate tax incentives. That should outrage every Louisiana taxpayer.
Read the whole thing. The Louisiana-is-good-for-business story of the past eight years appears to have been largely built on the state paying corporations to do business here.
That “look forward, don’t blame” strategy is exactly what the national GOP wants us all to do regarding the Bush years, because it’s what they’ve been doing.
(Readers, please remember that I’m traveling today, and will not be able to approve comments in a timely way. I wrote this post on Sunday and scheduled it to run today.)