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Study Says Louisiana Far Too Generous With Tax Incentives

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A coalition formed by clergy and public interest groups wants the state to re-examine the tax breaks it’s granting industry.  The group says local property taxes are being unfairly diverted from schools and law enforcement.

The group is called Together Louisiana. Spokesman Broderick Bagert says the study was aimed at finding out what’s happening to revenue generated by abundant state natural resources -- like oil and gas, fisheries and the Mississippi River.

“We have a bonanza of wealth in terms of natural resources. How is that with that kind of natural wealth we’re such a poor state,” he said.

Bagert says a central factor is the state Industrial Tax Exemption program, controlled by the state Board of Commerce and Industry. It’s redirected more than $16 billion over 10 years  -- or about $1.6 billion a year – away from local entities.

“This is – as far as we could tell, and we looked at lots of sources-- the single largest state subsidy of corporations in the country. It is the biggest reason why Louisiana grants the largest corporate tax subsidies larger than any state – and it ain’t even close. So the scale is a big part it,” he said.

The study says the governor can reform the program in what he considers the best interest of the state. Governor John Bel Edwards tells the New Orleans Advocate that he wants to review the program so it can create more jobs.

The commerce and industry board meets Friday.

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