JR Ball: The real ITEP problem  

Go on, get angry at Gov. John Bel Edwards for creating the mess that’s become of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program. Stomp your feet about Together Baton Rouge, the left-leaning group that’s hell-bent on making ExxonMobil the poster child for everything wrong, writes Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball in his new column.

Take whatever shots you’d like at the East Baton Rouge Parish Public School Board for having the audacity to just say no to Exxon’s most recent ITEP requests.

Then, once everyone is done with their tantrum, let’s get down to the real problem here: Louisiana’s ridiculously byzantine tax code that is full of gimmicks and special-interest-inspired adjustments and takes PhD’s to understand.
Ball goes on to write that he suspects some of the problems with Louisiana’s tax code are  thanks to the joys of Huey Long-style populism, which was originally unkind to big business and the “fat cats” at Standard Oil. Somewhere along the way, Long’s influence began to fade and the political power of industry began to rise and private-sector unions got neutered.

But instead of a clean revamp of policy, Louisiana elected officials rather selectively tinkered with the tax code over several decades.
Most people on all sides of the discussion, Together Baton Rouge, Edwards, BRAC, LABI, have a part of their stance that is correct. But no one is winning until the governor and state legislators to stop super-gluing the tax code and solve the actual problem.
Read the full column. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com.

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