The dishonest agitation over the proposed repeal of the state's income taxes either corporate or personal, or both shows the flaw in making tax policy through some single legislative bill.
Of course, it's easy to pass giveaways. The hard part is replacing the revenue lost.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been cool to the income-tax repeal bills, as he should be. He said he would entertain the proposals only if attached to specific plans for dealing with the loss of revenue.
What Jindal didn't say, but could have, is that Louisiana's tax structure is way out of whack.
As a state, we pay for many things that are financed in other states at the local level principally through much higher property taxes. It's easy to say that we ought to be like Texas and Florida, without state income taxes.
Its harder to tell voters that their property taxes would increase manyfold to make up the difference, or you could kiss road repair and other basic services goodbye.
Part of the problem: Louisiana uses mineral revenue to pay for many of those services, typically by the state funding projects and services that in other states would be paid for by local government. Texas, instead, dedicated vast sums of mineral revenue to build world-class universities; those are today engines for economic progress in our giant neighbor's economy.
Using the state as a conduit for mineral revenue has built up a something-for-nothing mentality that does Louisiana no good at all.
Nor would close examination of Jindal's poor decisions on the income tax cuts of 2008 be very flattering. Jindal raised tax breaks for the wealthiest taxpayers; the poor got the crumbs. There might be some states, such as New York or California, which have much higher tax rates, that provide such breaks, but for middling-size states with moderate income tax rates, Louisiana's tax largesse is focused on the best-off.
What is missing from the tax repeal discussion is a tax reform decision.
Reform means rationalizing the entire system, making it more efficient. Reform is needed. Repeal is a sideshow.