Has fiscal conservatism met an impasse at the state level?

The latest from Louisiana is that taxes are going up, but in a strange way that won’t be called a tax increase:

One of the most critical parts of the budget plan, and the part that attracted most of the debate, would raise no revenue and lighten no one’s tax burdens. But because of a complicated arrangement of tax credits, this plan could, by some interpretations, allow Mr. Jindal, a Republican, to say that despite millions coming in from cigarette tax hikes and tax break rollbacks, the state had technically not raised net new tax revenue.

Read the whole article, it is even weirder than that sounds.  Combine that with the recent fiasco in Kansas, where the strongly Republican state government will be reversing earlier tax cuts.

It seems to me that, whether we like it or not, fiscal conservatism has been stymied at the state level.  No, that’s not true for Illinois, New York, or California, but it does seem to be true for many other states, especially those governed by Republicans.  (And yes, state pension obligations still do need to be reigned in and made subject to proper accounting.)  More concretely, trying to cut taxes at the state level doesn’t seem like a useful or productive way forward.

If you have a better revisionist take on Louisiana and Kansas, please do put it in the comments, I would gladly read it, and if you have something really good I will pass it along.  But I see myself as stating what has to be the default hypothesis for the time being — should we not all come out and admit this?


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