In a speech to the Louisiana Legislature yesterday, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that he would “park” his tax plan. There is no doubt this is a huge blow to supply-side advocates and Arthur Laffer enthusiasts who tout false claims that tax cuts will ultimately pay for themselves and increase economic development.
The Governor’s controversial plan would have repealed the state’s personal and corporate income and franchise taxes and then paid for these tax cuts by increasing the sales tax. The sales tax changes included increasing the state tax rate from 4 percent to 6.25 percent, and expanding the base of the tax to include a wide variety of previously untaxed services and goods. ITEP found that the Governor’s plan would have raised taxes on the bottom 60 percent of Louisianans, as tax swaps tend to do.
The Governor’s plan met enormous resistance “in recent weeks as business groups and advocates for the poor have assailed its effects and think tanks have questioned whether the math in the proposal adds up.” Now the Governor is backing away from his proposal and urging the legislature to send him its own bill – one that would also eliminate the personal income tax – leaving “tax reform” up to the state legislature.
The key fact to bear in mind for Louisiana is that aside from raising the sales tax, there is really no way for the state to replace nearly $3 billion in revenue that will be lost if the income tax is eliminated. Lawmakers would do better to stay away from supply-side theories and instead close corporate tax loopholes, reverse the regressivity of the state’s tax structure and invest in public infrastructure because that is what real reform looks like.