The direction of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) for Louisiana manufacturing jobs will likely play a major role in the 2019 legislative session that begins April 8.
The discussion will hinge upon whether the state should keep multiple, local-based panels in place to decide on exemption requests for both the industries that want to operate in the area, and those that already do business in the parish.
The existing law in place following the 2016 executive order from Gov. John Bel Edwards requires that industry representatives bring their requests to three separate local entities – the sheriff’s office, the school board and the parish council or police jury.
In the case of a business within city limits, the industrial officials must also bring their request to the municipal board.
In the process, unanimous approval is required from all four entities to receive the tax break. Steven Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, called the process “a gauntlet.”
In conversations The News has had with local lawmakers, the prospect of a single board seems like the direction to take.
The one-board process – which works so well for Texas – would simplify the process considerably for the industries, and it would prove particularly advantageous when it involves an entity looking to locate in the parish.
State and local government should necessarily not give away the farm and the cow when they receive such requests.
They should consider the requests, seek out what’s best for the community and at least reach a compromise.
A unanimous decision should not be imperative, either. We do not see such mandates with legislation for the state Legislature, parish councils, school boards or municipal councils – and the same should apply to the boards.
A majority decision reflects democracy, and it should serve as the cornerstone for this process.
Louisiana faces enough challenges, even without a complicated process. A simplified process would benefit both the industries and the state.