LABI releases round one of budget research meant to increase public understanding of Louisiana’s finances

    The Louisiana state budget has grown by 44% over the past 10 years while the state’s gross domestic product grew by just 25%. The state also spends an estimated $5,577 per person each year, ranking 16th nationally according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the cost of services provided by government are growing faster than state revenues.

    These are just a few of the nuggets included in the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s first installment of a new research series dedicated to the state budget. The project is designed to make the budget process easier to understand and follow for the general public. From explaining the deficit to offering solutions, it’s the business lobby’s first step into the budget debate that should dominate next year’s policy talks.

    Titled “Budget Basics #1—Understanding the State Budget Deficit,” it consists of 14 charts accompanied by data and LABI’s findings.

    LABI President Stephen Waguespack says future installments of “Budget Basics” will “offer research-based solutions to the state’s budget challenges for the new Legislature and governor to consider in 2016 that will encourage both smarter government and a stronger economy.”

    The document is compiled from the point of view from business, and in part it argues that corporate tax exemptions are not necessarily solely responsible for the state’s budget challenges.

    “The data suggests a combination of factors are at play for the growth in tax exemptions, which totaled $7.7 billion in fiscal year 2014,” the report says. “Sales tax exemptions and individual tax exemptions are the most widely utilized of all revenue categories, totaling roughly $5 billion and representing more than two-thirds of all tax exemptions. Individual tax exemptions grew more than 100% over the past five years, while corporate tax exemptions grew 27%.”

    See LABI’s complete “Budget Basics #1” report.

    —Jeremy Alford

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