Walter Pierce

PAR joins LABI in opposing homestead exemption increase

by Walter Pierce

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has again joined forces with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry in a legislative debate, this time concerning proposals to increase the homestead exemption.

Several constitutional amendments are being bandied about in the Legislature’s spring session. One proposes a gradual increase in the exemption — currently set at $75,000 — tied to the rate of inflation. Another more radical proposal would double to $150,000 the amount of a private home’s value exempt from local property taxes. In opposing any increase in the homestead exemption, PAR President Jim Brandt argues that giving homeowners a break in property taxes merely transfers the tax burden onto businesses, a position taken earlier this month by LABI.

“These popular proposals are often misunderstood as tax breaks, when they are really tax shifts that would lower taxes for some and increase taxes for others,” Brandt argues.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has expressed support for a gradual increase in the homestead exemption, a position Brandt sees as more statecraft than sound fiscal policy: “It would be a mistake to narrow the property tax base and shift taxes from one group to another in order to win political favor.”

PAR and LABI often find themselves on opposite sides of a political divide when it comes to public policy. But the two organizations have also been standing hand in hand to support efforts at school board reform, which are vehemently opposed by the Louisiana School Boards Association as well as teacher unions.