Thursday, 14 May 2015 15:43
GOP Alario saving legislators for a more conservative day
Written by 

alarioOddly, if not ironically, conservatives may end up having Sen. Pres. John Alario to thank for keeping the focus on right-sized, sensible government in Louisiana as the state grapples with a looming budget deficit for fiscal year 2016.


In days gone by, the Democrat-turned-Republican often fronted efforts to expand government spending with commensurate tax increases as part of that. Whether for convenience sake and/or genuine ideological change, as Louisiana began electing legislators more compatible with their own worldviews and that worldview itself began to deemphasize populism, Alario became more conservative/reformist in his voting habits (in this term, his Louisiana Legislature Log voting score has crept up over 60, right about at the GOP Senate average).

And now he is throwing cold water onto House efforts, backed by some of its majority Republicans and party leadership, to raise taxes, most of these for at least a few years, as a budgetary solution by expressing a preference that the Senate will seek temporary means by which to balance the budget – implying suspensions of existing tax breaks would comprise the bulk of any revenue enhancements. As Alario’s greatest skill is herding lawmakers in a particular direction, chances are good it is this way at this time the Senate will head and thereby pressure the House to do the same.

For that reason, whether the end result comes because of personal conviction on his part is questionable. But that end result, which likely would take the form of permanent tax changes only in areas where the activity being taxed directly affects a certain government expenditure – such as on cigarettes related to Medicaid expenditures – or where taxing activities do not seem to encourage cost-effective economic growth – such as tax credits for solar installations or movie-making – would prevent longer-term tax increases divorced from the context of government spending.

Besides utilizing his own personal charms on his colleagues, Alario’s option also has other supports. Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to threaten vetoes of tax increases, with few of the non-temporary measures drawing the necessary majorities in the House for overrides. While the Legislature could try to play chicken with the governor, with the ultimate threat of him having to deal with the fallout of an unbalanced budget, if one chamber shows significantly less enthusiasm for a staring contest, Jindal will prevail where otherwise he might not.

Yet perhaps even stronger impetus for Alario’s course of action comes from the fact that all of the House’s actions on the non-temporary tax increases required that same two-thirds vote that most did not achieve, in fairly obvious violation of the Constitution. Already, the prominent and deep-pocketed Louisiana Association for Business and Industry has made noises about that with an implicit threat to sue the Legislature if those bills became law utilizing the current votes. It was joined in this opinion by Treasurer John Kennedy. Suffice to say, a number of incumbents running for reelection would rather avoid a scenario not only where LABI advertises to the electorate that they voted for tax increases, but also that there exists an open court case out there maintaining they foisted these on the public illegally. And undoubtedly other interest groups as well would join in the lambasting, which would not do anybody’s reelection chances any good.

So the question becomes whether House members want to hang themselves out to dry with repeated votes for tax hikes – for original legislation and veto overrides – that may not succeed constitutionally both in process and in substance. Better than take that risk, they may wish to proceed on keeping only the permanent measures mentioned above, which appear to enjoy decent to wide public support and can get two-thirds margins among legislators as a result, load up on temporary hikes, that as resolutions only need simple majorities to pass and cut out the governor’s involvement, and, hopefully, also consider strategies to enhance revenues that put more of the burden on the users of services.

Smaller government may be a result of this, but so much is occurring in the breach at the moment that, just as with the House’s revenue-raising frenzy that displayed little coordination and much irrationality, cutting spending also could come off more as butchery than surgical with little heed to prioritization and genuine need assessment. Therefore, it seems more effort would come in jacking up revenues than by curtailing spending, but, as Alario suggests, with next year a fresh governor and set of legislators, with gubernatorial candidates all pledging to follow history and declare a special session, on this occasion especially dedicated to fiscal affairs, immediately after inauguration, that may be a better time to institute changes (even though a plan to do it now is out there in the public domain).

That’s a lot better deal for conservatives seeking right-sized government than in swallowing a half-baked tax increase, which at this point would be the largest in the state’s history. Hopefully, enough of that impulse exists in the Legislature to make this choice instead of it continuing on the House’s current trajectory. Thereby making the somewhat-embattled Alario a new best friend of theirs, although perhaps not for life.

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

Login to post comments
  • Cat Fights on the Hot Cement Confederate New Orleans statues
  • Ex-Saints, Bears, Bills, NFL Exec, Jim W. Miller discusses NFL Draft tomorrow
  • Trump's new plan; Curtains on tax returns release; 40% say Trump-Russia; Probing Obama admin
  • Watch Louisiana Governor Edwards talk about CAT Tax failure

catRarely, have I seen few issues that have generated as much raw heat, tension, and passion than the Confederate monuments controversy. 

Just as existed during the real civil war, where brothers battled brothers, social media is the battleground, particularly Facebook, pitting friend against friend.

On one side of the tense divide, there are those who are protecting the New Orleans civil war era monuments.  Burnt in effigy, forever, is the symbol of Mayor Mitch Landrieu for up-ending what the monument protectors consider to be the loving civil society of New Orleans.

Lately, events have turned somewhat militaristic.

Some protectors of the Confederate monuments have been staying vigilant, in person and online, even surveilling during the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the next Mayor Landrieu attack. On Sunday morning, with protections of snipers, masked workers and a dumbstruck audience, the worst of all of the monuments was cut and carried., the Liberty Monument. 

Read More

miller nfl live2 5It’s D-Day or Draft Day tomorrow in the NFL.

More specifically, Thursday represents the first day of the NFL draft 2017.

Read More


trump curtainsThe major President Trump news of the day focuses upon taxes, not only the tax cuts he is proposing but his own taxes, which he obviously, refuses to unveil.


Read More

edwards play money 1

At a press conference today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the CAT Tax did not pass the House Ways and Means Committee.  The Governor, in addressing the media said that "the fate of that bill was decided long before we unveiled it".

Read More


Sen. Appel talks budget, economy


Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1