Revenue Neutrality At Heart Of Debate Between La. Government Watchdog Group And Gov. Jindal’s Office Over Tax Swap Plan
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) and La. Department of Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield, La. Gov. Bobby Jindal's point man on his tax proposal, are at odds over whether the tax swap proposal is revenue neutral, as advertised.
PAR President Robert Scott says after they have looked at the figures "the way they set it up...there is still about $500 million to $650 million short of making it revenue neutral." At issue, Scott says Jindal's team is using revenue numbers from 2011, leading to the potential shortfall in money:
Two years ago, we were still recovering from the national recession. Clearly, our revenue picture for personal corporate income taxes have gotten better...They're not using the numbers that we think are most accurate to reflect revenue neutrality...We just think it should be more of an apples to apples comparison.
But Barfield, who says he has met with members of PAR, disagrees with Scott, saying their analysis is "based on flawed assumptions...and does not take into account all the data used by the Louisiana Department of Revenue." Barfield says they are using the 2011 Fiscal Year data as a "starting point" for their analysis, but not stopping there:
A standard approach to estimate the future is to begin with the best data as of today. This we have done, but only as the starting point.
Scott says PAR supports ending corporate franchise taxes and personal income taxes, finding a lot in the Jindal tax swap to their liking. But the way Scott says PAR believes the Jindal administration is using the 2011 numbers has them worried, but the potential pitfall can be avoided by re-calculating with better revenue data:
The way they have the figures laid out right now, it doesn't look revenue neutral. I'm not going to say that they can't make it revenue neutral.
PAR's entire report and commentary can be read at PARLouisiana.org. Barfield says he will continue to meet with members of PAR throughout the process and believes in their proposal:
The Legislative Fiscal Office and other economic experts agree with our methodology. Our revenue projections will extend to FY 2014-2015 and will be revenue neutral.