The latest state employment figures are out, and the song remains the same one we’ve heard before from legislative fiscal analyst Greg Albrecht.
“We’ve been in a real decline, while the rest of the country has not. What we really need is job growth.”
Louisiana’s 5.7% unemployment rate, compared to the national average of 4.3%, is impacting sales tax and personal income tax collections, which together make up 61% of total state revenue.
Meanwhile, Governor John Bel Edwards croons what's become one of his regular tunes.
“The fact that 80% of the corporations in the state of Louisiana pay no income tax is a real problem.”
Yet despite corporate tax collections comprising just four percent of the state’s total revenue, a number of lawmakers pushed for more concessions for business during the regular fiscal session this year.
“It’s all about job development and putting people back to work,” Representative Blake Miguez (R - New Iberia) said, while pushing one measure.
“We need to do this so we can create jobs. And if we don’t do this, then other businesses are not going to come to Louisiana,” Representative Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) urged, repeating the now-standard justification for giving more tax breaks to businesses.
But with the state facing an estimated $1.2-billion revenue drop in little more than a year, there was some pushback – from both sides of the aisle.
“We all come down here, and we give millions of dollars away to these large corporations. We have to build roads and bridges, and do all the things that support business, but they don’t want to pay their share,” Republican Kenny Havard of Jackson reminded his fellow House members.
And Democrat Sam Jones of Franklin may have asked the most pertinent question of all:
“If indeed the purpose of these were to create jobs – and I don’t doubt that some of them did – where are those jobs?”
Tomorrow, we’ll go looking for those jobs.