Terrible Bill O’ The Day: Putting Businesses On The Dole For On-The-Job Training

You’ll probably wonder why we chose HB 637, a bill by a Republican state representative which creates a tax credit, as today’s Terrible Bill O’ The Day. But let us explain it for a minute and you’ll understand why this bill stinks enough to get an award.

What does Rep. Buddy Mincey’s HB 637 do? It’s an elaborate giveaway to businesses around the state and a nice little dodge for Louisiana’s awful government schools…

Abstract: Establishes a non-refundable income or corporation franchise tax credit for the employment of eligible students as interns in work-based programs designed to incorporate on-the-job training in high-wage, high-demand industry sectors.

Proposed law provides for the establishment of a non-refundable income or corporation franchise tax credit for a company that employs eligible students as interns in a work-based program designed to educate the student in a classroom setting as well as incorporate on-the-job training in high-wage, high-demand industry sectors. The amount of the credit shall equal the amount paid per internship per calendar year up to a maximum amount of $2,500 per intern.

Proposed law defines an “eligible student” as a full-time student attending a public secondary school in La. who is no less than 16 years of age at the time of the commencement of an internship.

Proposed law provides that if the tax credit earned for the taxable period exceeds the amount of taxes due, the taxpayer may carry forward the unused portion as a credit for future tax liabilities for up to five years. Proposed law prohibits the amount of the tax credit applied by a taxpayer in a taxable period to exceed the amount of taxes due from the taxpayer for that taxable period.

What’s wrong with this? Practically everything.

First, if these are jobs in high-wage, high-demand industry sectors these schoolkids are going to be interning for, then why do we need to give away tax credits to incentivize them?

Jobs that carry high wages and have high demand are, by their nature, jobs people will line up to get trained for. Would companies not want to take on interns and get free, or dirt-cheap, labor from people who would then be predisposed to want to move up in their ranks to have good jobs taking advantage of their skills?

What do you need state government for that?

And why is it necessary to carve out $2500 plus the cost of the interns as a tax break for Louisiana businesses? We’ve got massive outmigration problems in this state despite the tax code being covered with little carve-outs like this one; they obviously don’t work to generate economic growth or fix our labor problems.

We’ve got serious labor problems here, by the way. We’ve had them for a long time. When Louisiana’s economy had its post-Katrina boom in the early years of the previous decade and at one point there was some $170 billion in industrial construction projects in the pipeline, the number one economic concern was the lack of a skilled workforce. That isn’t as much a concern now since all of those projects have been completed and John Bel Edwards effectively ran off whatever else would have filled it, but go and check our unemployment rate and you’ll find it’s in the “threes.” If anything, we have a huge labor shortage in the state, and that’s with a declining jobs base.

Which is an economic death spiral, by the way.

So what you’re doing here is, you’re absolving schools of the responsibility to teach kids marketable job skills, but the schools still get all of the funding they’ve always gotten. And that funding comes from, in large measure, property taxes, 80 percent of which are paid by…business. Not to mention corporate franchise taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes, taxes on MM&E, utilities, inventory and everything else this state does to people trying to run a company here.

So as a business you’re paying full price on taxes for schools that don’t turn out skilled workers you can hire. Along comes Mincey, a RINO Republican from Livingston Parish who’s been a shill for teachers’ unions and school boards since before he was elected in 2019, to offer a tax break so those businesses can then take public school kids in as interns and do what the schools don’t – teach them something useful.

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This is precisely the kind of whittle-around-the-margins “reform” which has Louisiana in last place.

Let the market produce internships whereby businesses train kids to do a job, for crying out loud. Pass money-follows-the-child education policy, using funding which is currently wasted on bad government schools, and you’ll see internship programs and job training institutions spring up like crazy to create a skilled workforce.

Mincey’s not for any of that, by the way. He’s for covering up the awful results government schools produce.

Oh, because the schools are “good” in Livingston Parish.

By Louisiana standards, that’s sort of true. By national standards? Not really. And by international standards, Livingston’s public schools are trash.

The fact is, if those public schools or any of the others around the state were any good, you wouldn’t need this bill. And you still don’t. It’s a classic example of Too Much Government attempting to compensate for the previous failures of Too Much Government.

Failed systems need to be replaced with better systems run by better people. They don’t need to be tweaked with cutesy little tax breaks and dodges. So for the opportunity to offer that lesson, Mincey gets today’s Terrible Bill O’ The Day award.

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