Louisiana’s Supreme Court discounts advice from Ben Franklin
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The guidance of founding father Benjamin Franklin wasn’t enough to sway the Louisiana’s Supreme Court, which has declared moot a lawsuit filed by homeowners who said they were unfairly denied state tax credits for installing solar panels.
At issue was a 2015 law, passed as the state’s generous solar panel tax credit was getting more expensive than expected. Lawmakers voted to cap the program and phase it out. Some homeowners sued after they were caught short, having installed expensive solar systems in anticipation of the maximum $12,500 credit, only to have it reduced or denied.
The 2017 Legislature responded with a new measure allocating money to pay the applied-for credits over three years.
Despite that purported remedy, a Baton Rouge judge declared the 2015 law unconstitutional, saying the spreading out of payments didn’t fix the problem.
In a Tuesday ruling, the high court reversed the lower court judge. Writing for the majority, Justice Greg Guidry said the 2017 law did address the “allegedly unconstitutional” 2015 law by restoring the credit for those who had lost it — even though the payments were spread out over years.
“Everyone knows that time is money,” wrote Justice Jefferson Hughes, the only dissenter. “Well, almost everyone.”
Retroactively spreading credits over the years isn’t the same as paying them all at once, he said, ending with a lengthy quote from “Advice to a Young Tradesman,” written by Franklin in 1748. It says in part: “Remember that Credit is Money. If a Man lets his money lie in my Hands after it is due, he gives me the Interest, or so much as I can make of it during that Time.”