New Orleans isn’t just giving handouts to any ole company anymore.
The New Orleans City Council voted on Thursday to approve a set of rules about approving tax incentives for corporations—the same kind of public money states vowed to recklessly throw at Amazon for over a year. According to The Advocate, these changes to the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program are aimed at protecting and providing more security for local working citizens.
The tax breaks from ITEP can slash the state taxes companies pay by up to 100 percent in the first five years and 80 percent in the next three, according to Business Report. Before last night, the city was leaving an average of $10.6 million in taxes on the table every single year, per the Advocate. Meanwhile, workers have been left with a Louisiana state Senate that has repeatedly refused to raise the minimum wage past $7.25. Realizing the conservative state government wouldn’t budge an inch to help the working class, the City Council of New Orleans took matters in their own hands.
With Thursday’s vote, if companies moving into New Orleans hope to become ITEP recipients, they will now be required to pay workers a minimum wage of $18 an hour and locate their business in economically distressed areas. Additionally, starting off, businesses will be required to give New Orleans workers at least 45 percent of their overall paid work hours; 25 percent of those hours now have to go to disadvantaged local workers. Those requirements will increase to 50 percent and 30 percent, respectively, in 2020.
The decision made by the City Council came as the result of an executive order signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in June 2016. Edwards, who was replacing Bobby Jindal as governor, approved and promoted the order as providing the parishes of New Orleans the opportunity to determine what they hoped to get out of the ITEP program, rather than let it become even more so a vehicle for back-scratching business deals. In 2016 alone, Louisiana opted out of some $4.9 billion in taxes under the ITEP, according to a review by Together Louisiana, a group critical of the program.