President Donald Trump's tax and regulatory policies have set America's economy on fire. Trump slashed 22 federal regulations for every one created. According to The Hill, that move alone saved taxpayers $33 billion in regulatory compliance costs.
Under eight years of Obama, the country lost 286,000 manufacturing jobs. In less than three years under Trump, we’ve gained 446,000 manufacturing jobs.
In December, 312,000 more Americans found work, giving the country a historically low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The red-hot economy is also drawing back those who had previously given up on looking for work. Last month’s jobs report shows 419,000 new job-seekers. In the past year, the nation saw an increase of 2.6 million people who had previously given up on looking for a job now back in the workforce.
But as Trump cuts taxes and adopts pro-growth policies, our state leaders are taking us in a different direction. They’ve raised $7 billion in new taxes in the past three years — a staggering amount for a state our size. And this is with Republicans, the supposed pro-job creation party, controlling the Louisiana Legislature.
With a stroke of his pen, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, limited Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program considerably by giving local politicians veto power over the incentive. Since then, the number of projects collapsed 72 percent from the previous six-year average, according to three industry groups representing state manufacturers.
"These declines occurred during a year when our national economy saw a robust re-emergence of manufacturing activity of which Louisiana should have been a significant beneficiary,” wrote Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Gregory Bowser, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association, and Tyler Gray of Louisiana Mid-Continent Gas Association in a recent letter to state manufacturers.
Louisiana currently has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last month approximately 28,000 more people left Louisiana than moved here over the past year. Louisiana had the fourth-highest population loss of any state. With the nation’s economy on fire and Louisiana’s economy sluggish at best, the exodus was inevitable.
“As tens of thousands of Louisianans continue departing the state, businesses and working families need tax reform now. Leveling the playing field for everyone contributing tax dollars would jumpstart the state’s economy, “ said Daniel Erspamer, CEO of the Pelican Institute, a Louisiana-based nonprofit promoting free markets.
While Trump’s tax cuts boosted the national economy, it hurt some Louisiana taxpayers. Louisiana is one of only three states allowing for a full deduction of federal taxes paid. State coffers benefited. Louisianans paid more in state taxes since they could deduct less after paying less in federal taxes.
“Policymakers should eliminate this scenario by repealing the deduction for federal taxes in the state Constitution, and use the savings to fund lower tax rates overall,“ a recent Pelican Institute report argued.
Our state’s failure to keep up with the nation’s soaring economy is not completely the fault of the governor and Legislature. The Pelican Institute argues Louisiana’s tax code is complicated and broken and has been for years.
The institute recommends lowering tax brackets, eliminating excess itemized deductions used by a small percentage of filers and repealing franchise taxes. The group also calls for eliminating corporate income taxes entirely and dismantling so-called jobs “incentive” programs, which incorrectly rely on state officials to determine what programs best aid the Louisiana job market and economy.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is pushing for a constitutional amendment to create a single state sales tax-collecting entity. The group says that will streamline the tax structure and promote jobs.
Louisiana is clearly in need of some wholesale changes if we are to keep up with the prospering U.S. economy. And we need leaders to reverse their anti-growth policies and replace them with job-creating ones.
Email Dan Fagan at email@example.com. Twitter: @FaganShow.