Tuesday, 17 March 2015 16:53

Pinsonat: Legislators think Grover Norquist is a fraud about Jindal taxes

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pinsonat2The upcoming Louisiana legislative session, the state's massive budget hole, Governor Bobby Jindal's focus upon his own personal future career is receiving plenty of media ink lately.  


It has been reported that Governor Bobby Jindal, who seeks the presidential  position, sought approval from Grover Norquist to bless certain budgeting remedies.  

Regardless whether the legislature ultimately accepts the "Norquist-approved" solutions or not,  legislative chatter is surely heating up, and it's not even spring--yet.

However, it is a perfect time to get pearls of political insight and wisdom from Southern Media and Opinion Research's pollster, Bernie Pinsonat for a new edition of "Bernie Burns"

It has been mentioned in numerous publications that that Governor Jindal has hitched his wagon to Grover Norquist for that organization's interpretation of tax purity, at the risk of hurting businesses across Louisiana.  A number of conservative legislators have spoken out blasting Jindal, his proposals and his refusal to focus upon the problems of Louisiana.  Some believe his low numbers could actually hurt republicans this election.  Your view?

I think Governor Jindal must have something damming on Grover Norquist. Governor Jindal got Grover Norquist to tell us in Louisiana when something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it is a turkey!  There is no question that legislators rebelled against Grover Norquist being inserted into the discussion of raising additional revenues to avoid catastrophic budget cuts. Legislators are up for reelection this year; massive budget cuts certainly complicate getting reelected. Raising taxes in an election year can be fatal in most conservative districts. Since most of Louisiana is now mostly conservative; cut the budget or raise taxes is the ultimate pick your poison proposition. Most legislators were already in a bad mood facing a legislative session filled with uncertainties. Along comes Grover Norquist: attempting to help one of his presidential favorites.  His organization claims the cigarette swap tax is not a tax at all and it approves a reduction of the inventory tax credits.  LABI and the business community have no problem with Grover’s turkey (cigarette tax and other tax ideas), they’re claiming they are plain old ducks.  But, they do have an issue with the inventory tax.  They’re calling that a turkey.  This is an election year and Norquist will once again send out his no tax pledge for candidates to sign.  Grover’s credibility in Louisiana may recover, as of today the legislators I’ve talked to and based upon the comments I have read, I think they believe Grover Norquist is a fraud!  

This appears to be the most difficult legislative session in history with the budget difficulties of $1.6B, with education and healthcare already seriously hurt.  You have been involved in a number of legislative sessions.  How does this one compare at this juncture to those?  Should incumbents worry?  

This is the worst set of circumstances facing any governor and legislature as far back as you can go.  I would guess most incumbents up for reelection are worried because of the uncertainty factor. A billion six is a large number to cut from Louisiana’s budget. This is not the first year legislators have had to reduce the budget because of a lack of revenue, year after year this problem has reoccurred. Governor Jindal realizes cutting health care and universities is hurting his popularity - he uses every budget option available. His critics decry his use of questionable or gimmickry solutions, Jindal knows most voters approve of this approach rather than raising their taxes or massive cuts to state government services. Unfortunately, in an election year, this particular deficit is so large, moving money around and using one time dollars will not come close to completely eliminating this huge deficit. Biggest target to help reduce budget deficit are tax exemptions for solar, movie and other business exemptions. Solar and movies are the most likely targets with tax exemptions to business (especially small businesses) more difficult. Small businesses are a huge number compared to solar and movie related businesses. Tax emptions and credits are no longer in vogue with Louisiana voters. Any revenue not available to pay for state services means we are on the hook to make up the difference – more taxes. One does not need a survey to realize voters are no longer impressed by announcements of new industries locating in Louisiana. Whether true or not most believe companies must be coming to Louisiana because we allow them to pay little or no taxes! “Cobble together” this phrase applies to the most realistic choice for legislators. Get as much revenue possible from lots of areas; maybe even pass a short term budget allowing the next governor to revamp Louisiana tax system. Newly elected governors normally have enough popularity to make dramatic changes to fix systemic problems. Lack of revenue for the last seven years certainly qualifies as a systemic problem.


A recent poll reviewing the Louisiana electorate revealed a significant negative opinion voters have of its governor, Bobby Jindal.  It also showed that David Vitter, at this point, will be in a runoff--come October election day.


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Stephen Sabludowsky



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