Following are the priorities for which the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is advocating during the 2017 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature. BRAC’s agenda can be organized in three broad categories: transportation infrastructure, the economy, and education and workforce.
Secure funding to solve the Capital Region’s transportation crisis, sufficient to provide a comprehensive transportation infrastructure solution to the “Baton Rouge Bottleneck.” As such, BRAC will advocate strongly for the importance of securing a new Mississippi River bridge as its highest priority. In addition to generating revenue, a transportation funding bill must protect new revenue by keeping transportation dollars from being diverted to non-transportation uses or additional agency administrative costs/bureaucracy, and ensure accountability of transportation funding, especially for all new transportation dollars. The new funds must maximize and leverage financing opportunities like public-private partnerships. A major new transportation program must effectively meet the needs of the region and the state through sufficient and significant investment in both new capacity projects that would be bonded to the fastest possible design and construction timelines, as well as significant investment to address the existing maintenance backlog. All new capacity funding should be tied directly to the statewide megaproject lists.
Defend and improve Louisiana’s economic development toolkit by fighting measures that would further negatively impact the state’s critical economic development incentive programs and competitiveness. BRAC will seek ways to ensure predictability of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program and streamline and simplify its processes, while at the same time supporting streamlining of local Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements. As the business community adjusts to recent changes in many of the state incentive programs, BRAC will continue to educate decision makers on the value that these programs provide.
Support a pro-growth and balanced approach to tax reform that maintains Louisiana’s economic competitiveness, protects the Baton Rouge region’s economic development momentum, reflects the concern for stable funding for higher education and health care, and provides businesses the ability to create more jobs.
Improve strategies for innovation and economic diversification. Specifically, to lead the reestablishment of the Research and Development Tax Incentive to incentivize small businesses to invest in innovation, while also advocating for other policies that will create a more stable tax and financial environment necessary to retain and attract digital media and software businesses to the state and the Baton Rouge region.
Protect K-12 educational reforms and student achievement gains by opposing efforts that would weaken or dismantle school choice, higher achievement standards, and the state’s teacher and school performance accountability system.
Support the transfer of full tuition and fee autonomy to the state’s higher education systems while demanding higher education funding stabilization and TOPS standards and funding reform. BRAC will support bills to increase the standards of TOPS, as well as decoupling program costs from tuition and fee increases.