Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder, who is running for governor in 2023, visited the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday to discuss recent moves by his department and where he stands on a range of state budget and tax issues. Schroder weighed in on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ 2016 reforms to the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which gave local authorities the ability to weigh in on whether or not to grant lucrative property tax breaks to manufacturers. The reforms were done via executive order and can be reversed by the next governor. BRProud’s Shannon Heckt reports: 

Some believe corporations are getting to skip out on too many taxes with hundreds of millions of dollars being excused. Gov. John Bel Edwards has been pushing for locals to have more of a say in the decision of these tax breaks. One example is the Folgers facility in New Orleans causing a stir after asking to be exempt from local taxes. “These companies don’t locate here if they’re not getting some benefit because they can go someplace else where they are. But I do support the locals having a say,” Schroder said.

Schroder said he is open to the idea of repealing Louisiana’s personal and corporate income taxes, but realistic about the difficult task of replacing the nearly $5 billion the taxes generate. 

“The mindset and the perception is we need to do it. I am happy to work on that project. It’s not something new. But you have to replace 40 cents on a dollar. That, ladies and gentlemen, will not be an easy task,” Schroder said. Schroder also said he is not in favor of extending the temporary half-cent sales tax that rolls off at the end of next year.

States look to create their own child tax credits
The expanded Child Tax Credit included in the federal American Rescue Plan Act helped cut child poverty by nearly half. Unfortunately, Congress allowed the enhancements to expire in 2021, leaving it to states to provide this effective anti-poverty tool. Currently, 18 states are considering creating or expanding child tax credits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Samantha Waxman explains the movement for state child tax credits and their benefits to residents. 

Child tax credits are an important way that policymakers can help families make ends meet and help children thrive now and in the future. … Rising food and energy prices also continue to strain families’ budgets. Most state tax systems ask the most as a share of income from families earning the least. A strong and well-designed child tax credit can help make state tax codes fairer and more equitable while helping families afford the basics and overcome everyday financial challenges.

Chipping away at faculty tenure
A state senator has backed away from his previous efforts to end university tenure over concerns that it would discourage talented professors from coming to Louisiana. Instead, Sen. Stewart Cathey has filed legislation for the upcoming session that would enshrine annual faculty reviews and tenure termination processes in state law. But as the Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson explains, the bill seems redundant to higher education officials. 

Cathey’s bill codifies employment practices that many of Louisiana’s institutions of higher learning already have in place, at times reading more like a faculty handbook than a state law.  “The current version of the bill seems to attempt to establish a uniform approach to annual evaluation, promotion and tenure across the 28 public postsecondary schools serving people all over the state,” University of Louisiana-Lafayete Faculty Senate President Philip Auter said. “Post-tenure assessment protocols are already in place, and much of the bill’s language is currently put into practice” 

Red college, blue college
One in 4 college applicants in 2021 cited the politics of a state in which a school is located as a reason for not applying. Louisiana was among the most-rejected states, ranking third for most likely to be eliminated from an applicant’s list. The Washington Post’s Nick Anderson explains the most contentious issues – positions on abortion medication, diversity initiatives and test scores in admissions – and how America’s ongoing culture wars will increase polarization and make higher education funding more contentious. 

The culture wars are breaking public universities into polarized camps. At stake is who goes to college, whether those students feel welcome on campus and who decides what gets taught there. If, as a result, more prospective students gravitate to what they perceive to be politically like-minded colleges, analysts say that could produce a vicious cycle of division. “It will further advance the polarization,” said David Strauss, a higher education consultant in Baltimore. “That to me is a danger.” … Higher education officials often struggle to navigate these culture-war battles that can affect how much money they get from legislatures and how effectively they can recruit out-of-state students.

Number of the Day
$80 billion – Estimated decrease in spending from low-income Americans in 2023 alone because of the expiration of pandemic-era Medicaid and food assistance benefits. (Source: Goldman Sachs via The Washington Post)