Over the past five years, we overhauled our ethics laws, revamped workforce development programs, eliminated burdensome business taxes and passed landmark reforms to help give every child in Louisiana the opportunity to get a great education. Every challenge we have taken on has been about making Louisiana the best place in the world to find a job and raise a family.
Our work is starting to pay off. We're now at the top of many rankings for the best business climates in the country, and we are one of only six states that have more jobs now than at the beginning of the recession.
But - there are still too many Louisianians looking for work, too many Louisianians that want to find better-paying jobs and still too many Louisianians living in other states because they couldn't find work here.
That's unacceptable. I ran for governor to make sure that all of our sons and daughters could pursue their dreams here at home. We have made progress on that front, but our work is far from over.
One of the biggest obstacles we face in helping more Louisianians find work is Louisiana's tax code because it's complex, unstable and unfair. We have more than 460 loopholes on the books that make our system complex, volatile and unfair.
If you have a lobbyist and lawyer, you have a loophole. Let me put that a different way. In 2011, we actually went in the hole on corporate income tax by some $76 million. We actually paid companies through loopholes to not pay corporate income tax. That goes to show you our tax system is unfair and riddled with loopholes and exemptions.
We need a system where powerful special interest groups will no longer be able to rig the system. And to bring more job opportunities to Louisiana, we must start by having a tax structure that looks like it was designed on purpose.
That's why my top priority is to eliminate income taxes and more than 200 loopholes in a revenue neutral way.
Eliminating income taxes will have six benefits.
First, eliminating income taxes will help make Louisiana the best place to start a business. States with no income taxes are outperforming other states in terms of economic growth and population growth. Over the last 10 years, more than 60 percent of the three million new jobs in America were created by the nine states without an income tax.
Second, eliminating income taxes will give more control to the taxpayer. Eliminating income taxes and closing loopholes will reduce the tax burden for individuals and families across every income level.
For instance, a teacher making $45,000 per year would see her annual state tax burden reduced by more than $800 on average. An employee at a landscaping company and a stay-at-home mom making a total of about $35,000 per year would see their annual state tax burden reduced by more than $150. A plant worker making $60,000 per year would see his annual state tax burden reduced by around $1,000.
Third, by eliminating income taxes and loopholes, everyone will pay their fair share, and no more than that.
Fourth, we're going to close special interest loopholes. Powerful special interest groups will no longer be able to rig the system.
Fifth, we are going to protect food, prescription drugs and utilities from the state sales tax.
Sixth, and finally, by switching to a sales tax base, there will be more stability in funding for government services.
For too long, we've talked about getting rid of income taxes and said we need to compete with Texas and Florida. But, we've always just talked and tinkered around the edges of real reform.
This is our moment to eliminate the income tax and unleash major economic growth and opportunity in our state that will help keep our sons and daughters here at home to find jobs and raise their families.