This Louisiana Federation of Teachers press release is featured in Bayou Buzz.
(Baton Rouge – February 17, 2011) Governor Bobby Jindal’s announcement that he will seek even more tax breaks, adding to the more than 440 already in place, is an example of the poor choices that have contributed to Louisiana's current fiscal crisis, Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said today.
“Just one day after announcing that education funding will be frozen for another year, the governor now says that he wants to add to the more than $7 billion in tax loopholes that are starving the services Louisiana families depend on,” said Monaghan.
“We understand that leadership involves making choices,” Monaghan said. “However, we do not understand the wisdom governing the choice to freeze education funding one day and to choose to expand tax breaks the next.”
The LFT president said the governor and legislature should refrain from extending tax incentives or starting new ones until their effect on the economy and Louisiana communities is understood.
“Last year, the legislature passed bills asking for a thorough review of the 441 tax incentives currently offered by the State of Louisiana,” Monaghan said. “Lawmakers said they want to know how effective the incentives are. Do they attract jobs and grow the economy, or do they add to the bottom line of giant corporations at the expense of health care, education and the quality of life in our state?
“So far, there have been no hearings, and no reports filed on the effect these tax breaks have on our economy,” Monaghan said. “In his statement yesterday, the governor stated that he does not know how much this new round of tax loopholes will cost the state.
“But we already know some of the cost of the current policy. A number of school districts have already declared fiscal exigency, and school districts around the state have announced or are discussing layoffs of teachers and school employees. Access to health care is shrinking. Whole disciplines are being eliminated from our colleges and universities.”
More cuts to vital services and programs are anticipated this year. Lawmakers will enter the legislative session on April 25 facing a $1.6 billion shortfall.
“At the very least, if our teachers, our schools, and our children are asked by our Governor to do more with less, our governor should say ‘no’ to tax breaks are until we know if these breaks or helping or hurting the state.”