State lawmakers push for changes in how legislation’s cost is calculated 

    Louisiana legislative leaders this summer ousted John Carpenter, head of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office, and replaced him with Christopher Keaton, a veteran fiscal office analyst.

    Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, expects the change in leadership to lead to a change in how the office operates.

    “We can be utilizing the fiscal office for so much more,” Cortez says. Among other duties, the LFO estimates the potential impact on state finances of proposed laws and presents its findings in “fiscal notes.” 

    Cortez and many other lawmakers believe the fiscal notes focus too much on the potential cost of a proposal and not enough on the possible benefit, according to The Center Square. Tax breaks might reduce state revenue, they argue, but they also can boost the economy and spur job creation. 

    However, the fiscal office already considers how policy changes affect behavior and incorporates those impacts when there is sufficient evidence to do so, Keaton said via email.

    “The LFO will continue to consider all of the dynamic variables that can be proven to affect the estimated fiscal impact of proposed legislation,” Keaton said. “The objective is to get the estimates as accurate as possible to help the Legislature balance the budget.”

    One of the tools Cortez says he would like to see incorporated into more fiscal notes is “dynamic scoring,” which purports to take into account how taxes affect incentives to work and invest. Read the full story