Our “Republican” House Of Representatives And Today’s Tax-Hike Orgy

If you’ve been paying attention to the state legislature over the past few days, you’ve noticed that the House Ways and Means Committee dumped a dog’s breakfast of tax-raising bills onto the House floor. Today, that dog’s breakfast will make a feast for Louisiana’s majority-Republican legislators, the leadership of which is apparently bound and determined to raise taxes and destroy the trust of the voters who sent them to Baton Rouge.

The Baton Rouge Advocate sets the stage

Members of the Louisiana House on Thursday will provide the first measure of the Legislature’s willingness to raise up to $900 million in taxes that legislative leaders say is needed to prevent gutting the state’s colleges and universities and public health care system next year.

According to an internal House document obtained by The Advocate Wednesday, the representatives will vote on 13 separate tax bills selected by their leaders. They are from among about two dozen tax measures approved by the Ways and Means Committee during the past three weeks. Passing all 13 measures would raise anywhere from $550 million to $909 million per year, according to the document.

In all, lawmakers are facing a $1.6 billion budget deficit if they kept funding next year for all state programs at the current spending level. The more taxes they raise during the legislative session, the less they have to cut funding for higher education, public health care for the poor, state parks and museums, and the state’s forest firefighters, among other things.

No one on Wednesday could be sure which taxes — or how much — the House will approve on Thursday, setting up a high-stakes battle without a clear result.

Understand that this is being driven by the House leadership.

The REPUBLICAN House leadership. Those are the people who have now picked out 13 bills to raise the better part of a billion dollars from Louisiana’s taxpayers because $25.6 billion isn’t enough for the state legislature to spend.

They’re going to vote on these bills, 12 of which they’re saying they can pass with only 53 votes rather than the constitutionally-required 70, or a two-thirds majority, because the REPUBLICAN leadership in the House has selected them for votes.

Why do you vote Republican? Because you’re looking for fiscal discipline and the rule of law coming out of the public sector.

And yet you’ve heard no serious discussion of structural change in the size and scope of Louisiana’s government – the current size and scope of which is $1.6 billion too expensive for the state’s economy to support – from the REPUBLICANS who run the House. Instead, you get a tax orgy, and lawlessness.

It is illegal to raise taxes at the Louisiana legislature with a simple majority. You need a two-thirds vote to raise taxes in this state.

But Joel Robideaux, the House Ways and Means chairman who currently calls himself a REPUBLICAN (this is a fiction, of course; he only joined the party so as to achieve his current leadership position), says otherwise.

Why does Robideaux say this? C.B. Forgotston

Robideaux is basing that on legal fiction contained in a 1993 Attorney General’s Opinion.

An Attorney General’s opinion serves only one purpose; to cover the asses of public officials so they can do things that are of questionable legality without being found guilty of malfeasance. Otherwise, it’s no better than my legal opinion in a court.

Without getting bogged-down in legalese, Robideaux believes the general provision in the Louisiana Constitution about suspensions of laws (La. Const. Art. III, Section 20) requiring the same vote to pass a law to suspend it.   The tax credits, exemptions, etc. only required a majority of the leges.

However, La. Const. Art. VII, Section 2 says it takes a 2/3’s vote to increase taxes.  That provision is glossed over by the AG Opinion while saying the general overrules the specific law.

Louisiana jurisprudence says the opposite. When there is a conflict a specific law supersedes a general law. Perschall v. State, 697 So.2d 240 (La., 1997)

The AG opinion was written prior to the above cited case. The AG cites no case law to support his opinion.

The leges don’t give a damn about the constitution because they know most citizens don’t have the resources to litigate.  Even if someone does litigate, the matter won’t be decided before the suspension expires two months after the 2016 Regular Session.

At that point, the only recourse is for a taxpayer to sue the state to get the illegal taxes returned.   Assuming the taxpayer wins the lawsuit; they cannot force the lege to appropriate the funds to pay the judgment.

So beginning at 10 a.m. today, we’re going to see an orgy on the House floor, in which Robideaux and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley will pressure Republican state representatives to join Democrats in raising most of a billion dollars from Louisiana taxpayers in order to paper over their fiscal incontinence. They’re going to deem these tax bills passed based on legal interpretations as flimsy as their budgetary competence, and send this dog’s breakfast to the Senate.

Where perhaps more intelligent and better-skilled politicians will discard everything the House is doing and write a budget which doesn’t trash the state’s economy with massive tax hikes. Perhaps the more competent State Senate, which also has a REPUBLICAN majority (albeit one led by a lifelong Democrat currently under FBI investigation), can cobble together a more intelligent approach and curb the size and scope of state government.

Our Republican governor, who has mostly abandoned the Louisiana political field in pursuit of an impossible dream of being President of the United States, has vowed to veto a program of tax increases. But there is no particular negative sanction for him to break that pledge; he’ll be out of office next year anyway and he can’t negatively affect his presidential run in 2016 in any event when he can’t even poll at one percent in the Republican primary.

Which leaves us with – what? The knowledge that voting for Democrats would be worse than what we have?

Welcome to the orgy. Everybody gets screwed today.



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