More than two years have passed since Gov. John Bel Edwards rewrote the rules governing the decades-old industrial tax breaks and passed the power of approval to local governments, business community furor has reached a fever pitch just in time for election season.
The confrontation could become a major influencer in the governor’s race, in a state heavily tied to the chemical plants that benefit from the property tax break program.
The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board’s blocking of two tax exemptions sought by ExxonMobil, worth about $6 million over a decade, triggered loud, angry criticism of the Democratic governor’s actions, claims of an “anti-business” sentiment and hand-wringing over Louisiana’s business climate.
Republican gubernatorial candidate running Eddie Rispone, whose company services manufacturing facilities that benefit from the tax breaks, has made denunciation of the changes a main talking point. GOP lawmakers say they intend to file long-shot legislation aimed at undoing Edwards’ actions.