Trimming tax breaks key point for Louisiana legislature, but frustrating hurdle remains
An emerging plan to raise more revenue in a June special session by trimming tax breaks is running into a fundamental problem: Policymakers don’t know the bang the state is getting for giving up its big bucks.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and state Senate President John Alario both said in interviews that they want lawmakers to trim or repeal unproductive tax breaks during a special session that the governor is expected to call in June to prevent painful cuts to government programs such as TOPS, the wildly popular college scholarship program.
But other than with a handful of tax breaks given out by one state agency, state officials have no way to measure the return on investment for each tax break — to Edwards’ frustration.
“It’s an imperfect analogy, and I don’t like to use it, but we talk about running the state like a business,” Edwards said. “What business would spend money and not know what return it is getting? They would want a process in place to measure the effectiveness of that expenditure. There’s only so much capital, and you have competing demands for capital. And you can’t keep spending it on things that are not beneficial.”