House Republican leaders held firm on Thursday and defeated Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards' gigantic income tax hike one last time. Congratulations to Speaker Taylor Barras, Republican Delegation Chairman Lance Harris and all of the House Republicans who opposed the tax.
Be sure to call or email your legislators to tell them how happy you are that the income tax was defeated, and be sure to say "thank you" if they opposed the bill.
Governor John Bel Edwards, who just 6 months ago ran on "honor code" and "no new taxes" themes, never met a tax he didn't hike--until Father's Day 2016 when he took a whipping from House Republicans. Afterwards, he met with individual House members one-on-one, applying intense pressure to switch them in time to pass the huge income tax increase by the midnight deadline on Thursday when the Legislature had to adjourn. Edwards' allies intended to amend HB 50 on the Senate floor, but threw in the towel on Thursday afternoon when House Republicans refused to go along.
Thank you, House Republicans, and the awesome members of the Louisiana Senate who opposed tax increases this year.
While the GOP email claims victory, perhaps they should do victory laps for the way they were silent the past eight years that their own favorite son, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal ransacked the state treasury. Remember, the GOP governor? He looked for dollars under every rock, so he could claim a balanced budget while not raising taxes? The party honchos were silent while everybody and their green cats knew that Jindal was perpetrating a fiction last year with his SAVE ACT. That was the bogus tax credit designed to fund higher education, which did zero, but save his own campaign hopes. Those actually sunk below zero on hhis Iowa trail.
Keep in mind, since the Louisiana Republican Party email did not say this--its own party has controlled the complete Legislature, House and Senate over the past four-plus years. They helped raised taxes last year, this spring and during this special session.
While the party leaders try to make gotcha points on Edwards's "honor code" and his alleged "no-tax pledge, they surely don't appear to be very honest about the state of fiscal affairs. Or else, they aren't very smart. They have never acknowledged the fact that Governor John Bel Edwards, Republican Jay Dardenne, the Commissioner of Administration nor anybody else in government anticipated the hole that Jindal had left the state upon his departure. When the new administration took over, that hole was twice as bad as was believed during much of the gubernatorial election season. Thus, when all of the gubernatorial candidates were going on their no-tax pledges, they were thinking oranges in terms of budget hole, when ultimately, the budget canyon was rotten apples.
Nor did today's GOP email state that during our first special session this spring, the Republican controlled legislature, John Bel Edwards and Democrats in the legislature raised taxes. Yes, I did emphasize the Republican controlled legislature. And they have done so consistently. In total over the past 16 months, they raised well over a billion dollars for this upcoming 2017 fiscal year. They also hit the business community last spring 2015. Earlier this year, they added hundreds of million more to fill the Jindal and oil price drop 2015-16 budget hole.
Instead of taking responsibility for much of the wreckage occuring during its Jindal heydays and during the past four and a half years of their legislative controls, the GOP leaders displayed their chutzpah. They enjoyed that victory lap on the backs of responsible legislative members of its own party. Those brave members stuck out their necks for indispensible governmental services when the party leaders were insisting we didn't need a single penny.
They cliing to the pretense that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. So, did their chief spokesperson, Treasurer John Kennedy.
Well, the Republican controlled legislature, the Governor and the essentially all of the Democrats disagreed with the those leaders and with Kennedy. They studied the budget, held their noses and said "no" to misleading the public.
So, while Kennedy now continues to hit the airwaves claiming the same mush so he can be our next US Senator, perhaps we all can ask a very important question: If we didn't raise money, how would we have paid for that popular program TOPS or higher education or healthcare, or more?
Let us not forget, without saying so, Kennedy and the GOP leaders are essentially telling the world that their own legislative members betrayed the party. In reality, the legislators in the trenches raised millions and millions while our treasurer preached we didn't need a red cent. In fact, amazingly, based upon Kennedy's own calculations in late January 2016, the budget holes were roughly half of what the governor, the Revenue Estimating Conference and the legislature said it was. Boy, was he ever mistaken. Then, he had to keep to his script that we didn't need a penny.
So, join me as I wonder--are those Republicans in the legislature who took the hit for raising taxes going to stand up to Kennedy (and their party leaders) and tell them to stop dishing out political propagada? After all, the GOP and Kennedy are making them look like fools to their own constituents.
During the just-completed legislative special session, the Kennedy and GOP brass (and some conservvative bloggers) promoted the fiction that the state's budget was two billion dollars more than the prior year. While technically true, they failed to mention that roughly 900 million was federal money to fund the Medicaid Expansion, a portion was to pay for the healthcare bills that Jindal did not pay and a big chunk, making up the difference, went to refill the buckets that were swept by Jindal when he needed to save his presidential hopeful face.
Most importantly, keep in mind, nobody, not a single person put a gun to those Republican legislators head. No more than Jindal put a gun to Democrats or Republican heads during the past eight years.
If you are being honest, to get over the fiscal hole, over the past two years, a combination of the Republicans, Edwards, and Governor Jindal (and the entire democrat delegation) combined efforts to raise money. Jindal said he did not raise taxes but nobody in their right mind believes that. Instead, they raised revenues on businesses, families and all of us via sales taxes and other tax instruments. In fact, in early 2016, the President of the Louisiana Association of Business and industry promoted raising two cents in sales tax not just one, so, obviously, he (who had been a top general in the Jindal administration army), felt the revenue well was desperately dry.
Those who are sending kids to college this year, just think--there are universities open. Would there be if no taxes were raised? They can thank the brave Republican majority in the House and Senate, Governor Edwards and the Louisiana Democrats. Also, those who are needing public healthcare, you can still get it. The hospitals, for the most part will be open, thanks to basically the same coalition. Those who need state police protection to keep themselves safe can thank those who sacreficed so the forces will be with you.
The process was long and ugly. Edwards did not get all he wanted this year, but, considering the incredible ditch he faced, he did well. And, yes, he wanted a few hundred million more dollars. Time will tell whether the state really could have used an additional 300 million or so which the GOP leaders said, "neaux way". We shall see and if they are right, they should get a lot of credit.
But, at least, those who bellied up to the legislative bar appreciated the harsh realities in the world they live in. At least, they were unwilling to live in the Neverlands of No-Tax Ever fantasy world. At least, they can take credit that they helped keep the schools, hospitals and other critical governnmental institutions open.
Indeed, it has been self-less task, after the GOP party's leaders and their "golden boy" Jindal, decimated the state (along with falling oil prices) on his bizarre attempted journey to the White House.
But, an important proportion of the Republican legislature owned up, made the necessary corrections and will pay the ultimate piper, the voters.
It would be nice if their own party leaders would be straightforward for once and admit the obvious.
Something, I surely don't expect from our state treasurer.