Tax reform, transportation top list for regional economic development organization
Baton Rouge, La. (March 31, 2021) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today announced the priorities for which the organization will advocate during the 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, which begins on Monday, April 12, and runs through June 10. BRAC’s agenda focuses primarily on tax reform and transportation, with additional advocacy around business competitiveness, workforce and talent development, and an accelerated and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. BRAC’s legislative priorities can be found in full at brac.org/legislative-priorities.
“We are approaching a fiscal session unlike any other,” said Nial Patel, 2021 chair of BRAC’s Legislative Committee. “With massive amounts of federal funding at play and the critical need to position the region and state as competitively as possible for future business investment, we simply can’t afford to get this wrong.”
“Transportation and tax reform have been on legislative wish lists across the state for decades,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “We have the opportunity here to make significant progress on infrastructure issues, streamline our unnecessarily convoluted tax policies, and set our current and future talent up for success. Our 2021 legislative priorities reflect both the urgent issues facing our business community and the structural change needed for long-term success.”
BRAC’s 2021 legislative priorities are summarized below:
- Modernize the tax code to streamline the process for businesses and individuals by eliminating federal deductions, the franchise tax, and the inventory tax. These reforms will stabilize the state’s budget and make the state more attractive to both businesses and talent.
- Centralize sales tax collections to simplify the process and reduce the barrier to doing business in the state for small and mid-size companies without the resources or staff to navigate the current unwieldy process.
- Address the Capital Region’s transportation crisis, specifically through support of a new Mississippi River crossing and connectors, and fully funding the I-10 widening through the heart of Baton Rouge. BRAC will continue to advocate for commuter rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
- Protect employee salaries, identities, and personal information by extending to the Louisiana Department of Economic Development the same confidentiality provisions for employee data as are offered for employee data disclosed to other state agencies.
- Prioritize Capital Outlay for the Capital Region, specifically in support of the LSU/City Parks Lakes revitalization project, Capital Area Groundwater Conservation Commission’s request for proper monitoring and maintenance of the Southern Hills Aquifer, and talent development at regional institutes of higher education.
- Accelerate North Baton Rouge economic development through the creation of Economic Development Districts along Plank Road to incentivize investment.
- Support talent development initiatives being led by LCTCS to expand financial assistance to adult learners in credit and non-credit programs in target industry sectors through the MJ Foster Promise Program. BRAC will also advocate on behalf of legislation to allow for data sharing between workforce and education agencies to track the effectiveness of career and technical education programs in successfully placing students in high-growth, high-wage jobs.
- Expand access to capital for small and minority owned businesses by using federal funding to enhance capital opportunities for early stage and high-growth-potential businesses.
- Responsibly allocate federal funds by bolstering the Unemployment Trust Fund to avoid reduction in benefits to the unemployed and a corresponding tax increase on businesses.
BRAC’s full rationale on its legislative priorities is available at brac.org/legislative-priorities.