When Baton Rouge school board officials in January delivered the city’s first denial of an Industrial Tax Exemption Program request to ExxonMobil, business groups rushed to condemn the decision while renewing their pleas for another round of ITEP reform. Their Louisiana battle cry was a simple one: Adopt a more predictable approval process for companies.
But what exactly would another program reform—or ITEP 3.0—look like?
One idea gaining traction is the creation of a single point of contact, or a committee, in each parish to consider tax abatements, rather than have companies go before three or four public bodies for approval. The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber have both proposed versions of this idea.
It’s modeled, they say, after a similar process in Texas. But Together Baton Rouge, which has led the charge for local control, disputes that claim, saying corporate tax breaks in Texas can only be granted by the local taxing entities themselves.
So who’s right? According to Texas law, Together Baton Rouge. Yet, the claim of a single point of contact does hold up—to a degree.