John Bel Edwards Distorts Louisiana’s Tax Climate

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards smiles as he describes the end of a legislative session that saw his teacher pay raise and education spending plans win final passage, on Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards claimed Wednesday that Louisiana has the fifth-lowest tax burden in the country despite more recent studies that show the state has one of the higher tax burdens across America.

The Council for a Better Louisiana released their Louisiana gubernatorial survey, asking candidates significant issues relating to the state. In the survey, Gov. Edwards claimed that Louisiana has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country, despite evidence that shows the contrary.

Gov. Edwards told the Council:

I do think we need to reform our tax structure. We have the fifth lowest tax burden in the entire country. Our nominal rates are differnt than our effective rates, and by getting rid of some exemptions and other tax expenditures, we can lower rates and cut through the clutter, and make our tax code fairer and simpler.

However, it appears that Gov. Edwards’ claim remains out of date. Louisiana had the fifth-lowest tax burden in the country for fiscal year 2012, seven years ago. It appears that Edwards’ team likely cited a USA Today article that was released in 2019, but explains:

 To identify the states with the highest and lowest tax burdens, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state and local tax burdens as a share of state residents’ income in fiscal 2012 provided by tax policy think tank Tax Foundation. [Emphasis added.]

Despite Edwards’ claim, recent analysis from WalletHub and the Tax Policy Center shows that Louisiana has the 24th highest overall tax burden as well as the fourth-highest sales tax burden.

In contrast to Gov. Edwards, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), who is running against Edwards for governor, said that he will work to cut and simplify Louisiana’s tax system.

Abraham said he will eliminate the franchise tax “completely” because it serves as a “complicated, antiquated tax” that puts Louisiana at a disadvantage. Rep. Abraham said that the state must lower the “exorbitantly high, regressive sales tax.”

The Louisiana conservative said that he will move away from Louisiana’s complex system of having different sales tax collectors in each parish of Louisiana because it is “repetitive, overly burdensome, and is killing businesses in Louisiana, both large and small.”

On top of Edwards’ tax record, recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data found that Louisiana was the only state last year to lose jobs, despite the economic growth under President Donald Trump.

Lionel Rainey, an Abraham adviser, told Breitbart News in May that Abraham will work to get Louisiana’s economy thriving again.

“And what you got is Abraham coming out and very simply mimicking what the president says–‘you want to get this thing moving? We’re going to cut taxes and create jobs,” Rainey said.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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