Majority of La. residents favor tax incentives as a way to attract business

While state lawmakers eye reducing tax incentives as a way to help close a projected $1.6 billion budget gap in the coming fiscal year, a new survey suggests a majority of Louisiana residents strongly support such programs.

According to the 2015 Louisiana Survey, conducted by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, 72% of those surveyed support reducing state taxes on businesses to get them to come to Louisiana. A smaller majority, 55%, supports using state government funds to actually pay businesses to attract them to the state.

“These programs are getting more and more scrutiny from lawmakers as they look for long term solutions to the state’s budget shortfalls,” says Michael Henderson, research director of the PPRL. “However, if they want to curb these programs, they are going to have to really work to make the case to the public. As of now, most of the public sees these incentives as good for the state.”

The survey also shows the public remains supportive of tax incentive programs for businesses even when told specific arguments raised by critics. Public support remains near 60%, for instance, whether people are told criticisms about the programs’ direct costs to the state budget or people hear critiques of the programs’ effectiveness.

As lawmakers head into the spring Legislative session, reducing or even eliminating certain tax incentive programs is one of the hot-button issues they will be considering. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget calls for scaling back the inventory tax credit as a way to save nearly $400 million. The state’s film industry tax credits are also coming under scrutiny.

The latest results of the Louisiana Survey are the third set of findings released in recent days by PPRL. Previously released results indicate 83% of Louisiana residents want to see the current state budget shortfall resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, though they oppose specific budget cuts to areas like higher education and health care.

The Louisiana Survey is conducted annually and tracks trends in Louisiana residents’ attitudes about conditions in the state. See the complete survey results on tax incentives.

—Stephanie Riegel

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