Tuesday, 13 March 2018 13:12

Black Caucus Sen. Morrell says House GOP Trumpesque, pokes at Edwards too

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bell morrellAmid the existence of severe distrust among various factions of the Louisiana legislature, Governor John Bel Edwards  on Monday addressed the opening of the Louisiana legislative regular session.  

Earlier in the morning, Warren Bell (WBOK News Director, anchor of the "The Morning Cup" news show) captured some of the existing anger, frustration and distrust among the legislators.  His guest, New Orleans Senator JP Morrelll, provided the background information and details. 

The bitter taste at the Capitol surely emanates from deep political philosophical differences that have been present for decades.  The anger was on display during a bitter legislative fiscal session that ended last week. The purpose for the special session was to close a budget gap of roughly one billion dollars that had been plugged two years ago with a one penny sales tax. That penny tax is expiring on June 30 of this year.

According to Morrell, the black caucus felt the Republican majority in the House were disrespecting them and imposing the budget burden on the backs of minorities, the poor and people less capable of taking care of themselves, economically.  Worse, Morell claimed that the House majority were dictating how they would let the black caucus vote on the issues.

The frustration, however, apparently is not solely directed towards the republican house members. Morrell said Governor Edwards also played a role by trying to get the caucus to accept a one-half penny sales tax instead of a one-fourth penny permanent tax.

For some, including talk show host Bell, this revelation of the half-penny court press came as a surprise as it has been under-reported. At the end of the special session, the governor blamed the Speaker for the failure to find a solution. Edwards said the Speaker failed to deliver the agreed upon forty votes needed to consummate a deal. The Republican Party countered by stating the Governor could not even control his own party and blamed the breakdown on him and the black caucus.

Morrell’s comments to some extent verify the Republican Party’s allegations that the Democrats were divided. Yet, he blamed the Republican House of playing Trumpesque 1950’s  politics in the legislation presented.  

Below is the initial part of the transcribed WBOK interview. Also below is the audio, which has been transformed into a Youtube video. The relevant segment begins at the 3 minute 32 second mark. The transcribed segment concludes at the 8 minute, 53 second mark on the video.

Watch the rest of the video to hear the entire interview of Senator J.P. Morrelll

MORRELL: The frustrating part of the Black Caucus member, more as a senator, is that--there in this effort in the house where the GOP wanted to dictate how they would allow black legislators to vote for taxes.   I mean you saw this whole breakdown with the legislative black caucus where they're in this effort to pass a variety of bills to kind of vilified Medicaid, Medicaid recipients--and you got many black caucus members who were highly offended by this whole idea that we're in a scarlet letter single moms' one of them and we have had a very opposition to these kind of bills, well it wasn't enough that the GOP had the votes to pass them without us--there were efforts by members to insert language tying all revenue to these crazy horrific Donald Trumpesque bills 

BELL: right  

MORRELL: And where you saw the breakdown happen, in the house and it would have happened in the Senate as well is that, it wasn't enough that they refused to vote on taxes--taxes had to pass off the backs of black people they had to insert this offensive language saying "and by the way, we're only going to allow you to vote for a tax if you also vote to support this horriific terrible Donald Trump 1950s vilified people that have to have some kind of assistance from the government to go through with their lives.  And I mean it was almost surreal Warren because none of these Republicans you saw it in all in the votes ever intended to vote on a tax but there was almost like a pre-political poll tax to vote for the taxes.    

BELL: And and what I'm, in in other words, with a particular focus on you guys, you guys being the legislative Black Caucus, either you agree to this or we won't even allow the vote that we said we were prepared to take during this special session 

MORRELL: That was exactly it and i think where the breakdown happened-was yeah--and Representative Gary Carter really summed it up very clearly--on one hand, you have Republicans saying "you have to vote on Medicaid and Medicare and these horrific things you don't agree with", on the other side you have the governor saying "well we want to do, we want to solve this problem with the half-a-penny, in permanent sales tax".  And for many members of the Black Caucus, they said "whoa whoa we voted for temporary sales tax once because a sales tax is the most regressive sales tax pipe you could have in it's part of your budget and it unfairly unduly burdens those people who are lower income or lower middle class income--so were'nt for a sales tax to begin with, we went along with it grudgingly two years ago and this effort to try to solve the solve the fiscal cliff without spreading the pain around really did that bill very far.   

I mean there's plenty of, plenty of room to to tinker with the income tax a-la-Stelly--there's plenty of room to attack all of these sales taxes existing. The reason why major corporations don't oppose a sales tax increase, it's because they don't pay it.   

BELL: It protects their cushion correct? 

MORRELL: Right. 

BELL: Let me let me make sure I understand what you're saying here, because you know, we don't mind making headlines and I think I just--so--what you're saying is the breakdown wasn't just between Democrats and Republicans but between the Democratic governor and his legislative black caucus because you're saying John bel Edwards was more or less prepared to say "well why don't we just get along and to get along and y'all just go ahead and say yes to the half cent extension.  I was not aware of that going on behind the scenes.  

MORRELL: Well, i think, there was a little bit of coverage with Gary Carter, it didn't really go very far, where he kind of out the bell ring but there was a beakdown--  the caucus was sandwiched between the governor who want to solve the problem as quickly as possible in a way that you thought Republicans would support and Republicans who thought that honestly-- I think there are a lot of Republicans, Warren, who go to bed each night thinking that Democrats dream of taxing people and they just thought that they can put whatever kind of ridiculous criteria on top of a tax and you know--a Democrat especially those black caucus members--as they wake up each day thinking about other tax people--that we all be for--and the reality was the caucus had said, both verbally and in writing for the past six months, a sales tax was not going to be the solution by itself 

BELL: Exactly 

MORRELL: I mean, obviously if we had some changes to the exemption law where we exposed more of these large corporations, especially out of state international corporations to pay the sales tax, honestly, Representatives Kenny Havard had a bill, Warren, where just by cleaning the pennies and moving exemptions, would not the rate the sales tax at all. 

It was like almost the exact same amount of money as raising that half a penny or that quarter of a penny 

BELL: By addressing some of those inequities built into the current sales tax etc--scrubbing the penny I think is the term 

MORRELL: Yes, had we scrubbed, had we scrubbed four pennies, four cents pennies of sales tax, had we scrubbed the exemptions off, it would have generated over four hundred and fifty million dollars

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