Edwards favors ITEP rules changes

BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement on friday’s action by the Board of Commerce and Industry to clarify a portion of the rules related to the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which continue to give local government entities the ability to approve or deny these critical tax exemptions.

Gov. Edwards said:

“Louisiana took a huge step forward in 2016 when, for the first time, we granted local government leaders the ability to approve or deny ITEP projects in their communities, giving school boards, councils and sheriffs a say in their local tax collections related to economic development projects in their parishes. My commitment to local control over ITEP projects has not wavered.

The ITEP program has been incredibly successful over the past four years, approving projects that ultimately represented $104.5 billion in capital investment in Louisiana, even as we have improved the program to bring in local approvals of the exemptions.

Today’s action by the Board of Commerce and Industry simply clarifies rules in the ITEP program so local denials are in accordance with state program rules. In no way does this action take away the ability of local leaders to approve or disapprove of tax credits. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, I anticipate that the State will not entertain an appeal under this clarified rule at all.

The action clarifies that interested parties may appeal a local ITEP rejection to the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry if the party believes a local ITEP decision is based on a local rule that conflicts with the state rules.

Throughout the process of improving the ITEP process, I have spoken with local leaders, business and industry groups and community activists to hear their insights and concerns, which are sometimes in conflict. Just as we have worked to ensure local leaders have a fair role in the process, we must work to ensure local and state rules are consistent and fair to all concerned.”