Efforts to overhaul tax codes, such as the effort being pushed in Louisiana by Gov. Bobby Jindal, stem from proposals by a policy advocacy group that would shift the tax burden onto middle and low income households, according to a report released Wednesday.
The source of the tax change proposals is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, said Erica Williams, a senior policy analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, based in Washington, D.C. She co-authored a report entitled “ALEC Tax and Budget Proposals Would Slash Public Services and Jeopardize Growth.”
ALEC boasts of having more than 2,000 members, predominantly state and federal legislators, and describes itself as advancing an agenda of “free markets,” “limited government” and “individual liberty.”
Jindal is meeting regularly with small groups of Louisiana legislators to consider eliminating income taxes and replacing the lost revenues with increased sales taxes.
“The plan under consideration in Louisiana right now is the type of plan that would shift the tax burden onto the poor,” Williams said in an interview Wednesday. “It would be very harmful and would affect the state’s ability to deliver key services like health care, education, transportation and building infrastructure, which are the building blocks for a state’s economic growth.”
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes itself as doing research on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families.
Williams said she reviewed ALEC publications and writings, as well as analyzing the proposed drafts of tax overhaul legislation.
“We found that their research is deeply flawed,” Williams said. “A state’s tax and budget system should be designed to create growth. It should be grounded in sound economics and analysis, and unfortunately, ALEC is not that.”
“I have no idea if the governor’s tax plan was motivated by ALEC, you would have to ask the governor that himself,” said Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project in Baton Rouge. “Our concern is that the governor’s plan is the same policy that ALEC promotes, which is cutting taxes on the wealthiest in our state at the expense of the poor.”
The Louisiana Budget Project is an initiative of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations and is part of a national network of 40 State Fiscal Analysis Initiatives coordinated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“The ALEC policy doesn’t promote the growth of the middle-class,” Moller said. “It encourages cutting government services that often flow to the people who need it the most, like college students, the elderly and people with disabilities.”