(LABI PRESS RELEASE)
LABI’s Legislative Scorecard is an annual opportunity to recognize members of the Louisiana Legislature who supported a pro-growth agenda that will help expand Louisiana’s economy. The scorecard also identifies legislators who voted against LABI’s priorities, particularly the decision to raise taxes on employers and individuals by more than $600 million annually in 12 bills that the governor has subsequently signed into law.
“Throughout the regular legislative session, many lawmakers repeatedly insisted their only choice to fund higher education and health care was to raise taxes. We are disappointed that numerous legislators fell for this trap. The Legislature voted to prioritize an ever-growing government and increase taxes on small and large companies across the state,” Stephen Waguespack, president of LABI, said. “LABI’s 2015 Legislative Scorecard highlights how lawmakers voted on measures to reduce credits and incentives recognized by experts as vital to economic competitiveness, and provides voters with valuable information and direction in advance of the upcoming elections.”
“As Election Day approaches, it is absolutely critical that the business community clearly understands how their representatives voted in Baton Rouge,” Steve Stumpf, chair of SOUTHPAC, said. “It’s one thing to talk the talk and another to walk the walk, and LABI’s legislative scorecard will help SOUTHPAC determine which legislators are truly walking with Louisiana’s employers when it counts.”
According to LABI’s 2015 Legislative Scorecard:
- One senator earned an “A” down by seven from 2014,
- 11 representatives earned an “A” up from two last year,
- the average score for senators was 45 percent, and
- the average score for representatives was 54 percent.
Thirteen senators and 35 representatives reside in the SOUTHPAC territory, which includes the Greater New Orleans Area, the Bayou Region and parts of the Northshore. Of these 48 legislators, only three SOUTHPAC constituents achieved “Most Valuable Policymaker” status in the 2015 LABI Scorecard by voting against 100 percent of the tax increases opposed by LABI. SOUTHPAC MVPs include Reps. Raymond Garofalo, R-Chalmette; Sam Jones, D-Franklin; and Lenar Whitney, R-Houma. This is the second consecutive year that Rep. Whitney has achieved MVP status with LABI.
Furthermore, Reps. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, and Paul Hollis, R-Covington, join these same three legislators to total five lawmakers that attained “All-Star” status in the SOUTHPAC area, which required a score of 90 percent or higher on all issues supported by LABI in 2015.
Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, earned the lowest score in the SOUTHPAC territory, voting to support the priorities of employers in the state just 18 percent in 2015. Heitmeier also scored the lowest of any senator in the state. Reps. Austin Badon and Joseph Bouie, both democrats from New Orleans, earned the lowest score (27 percent) among SOUTHPAC representatives.
“We appreciate the bold efforts of the SOUTHPAC area legislators who achieved MVP and All-Star status, demonstrating a firm commitment to growing our economy and creating new jobs,” Stumpf said. “We are disappointed that the vast majority of the 48 representatives in our region chose to maintain the size, cost and operations of state government over a pro-growth agenda. We look forward to working with new and returning legislators to ensure that 2015 was only a temporary setback for Louisiana employers.”
In the past, legislators voting with LABI 75 percent or more have received an automatic endorsement in campaigns for re-election. After this session, however, LABI’s SOUTHPAC is considering changing its endorsement rules, effective immediately, allowing PAC members to consider more than this one threshold in order to endorse candidates.
LABI entered the 2015 legislative session by encouraging senators and representatives to focus on making Louisiana’s business climate more competitive.LABI’s 2015 Program of Work served as an important roadmap to educate legislators on the issues considered most important by LABI members and the business community as a whole.
Throughout session, as votes on priority issues approached, LABI staff, leadership, and members communicated with legislators indicating the importance of the vote to the business community.
While 1,947 bills and resolutions were filed, and 473 of them passed both chambers this year and were enacted by the governor as of July 1, LABI has a focused agenda and the actual votes used to calculate legislators’ scores are those votes that tie directly to LABI’s Program of Work.