This week LABI released their scorecard of those legislators they view as pro-business and the results were very disappointing. One of the biggest set backs for the business community was the passage of over $600 million in tax hikes on employers. But LABI had some victories on tort reform and school standards.
LABI President Stephen Waguespack said in the scorecard:
Throughout the regular legislative session, lawmakers repeatedly insisted their only choice to invest in priorities such as higher education and health care was to raise taxes. The reality is there were many other options that could have been placed on the table to do so. The Louisiana Legislature not only failed to structure the tax increases to minimize harm to jobs and the economy, but also refused to control government growth, make reductions in less critical services or even debate structural reforms to the state budget that would allow lawmakers to prioritize needs across state government each and every year.
The tax hikes were not the only setback for the business community and limited government advocates this session.
Tax policy was not the only area where the Legislature made the choice to prioritize government over private citizens. The House of Representatives refused to take a vote on a bill to end the role of government as the middle-man between taxpayers and public unions, instead allowing the mandate of automatic deduction of union dues to continue across state and local government. A House committee rejected a package of bills to require additional transparency and disclosure by the judicial branch, choosing to keep buried court finances in a state routinely criticized nationally for having a poor legal climate.
This year, only 11 members of the State House and 1 State Senator, Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas), scored 90% or above. The 11 state reps who scored 90% or above were:
Neil Abramson (D-New Orleans)
Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette)
Richard Burford (R-Stonewall)
Ray Garofolo (R-Chalmette), who was the only one to score 100% this year.
Paul Hollis (R-Covington)
Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge)
Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City)
Sam Jones (D-Franklin)
Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette)
Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport)
Lenar Whitney (R-Houma)
In the old days, LABI’s rules were lawmakers must score above 75% in order to get LABI’s endorsement. Those rules have been changed after this session to add additional criteria, but the 75% rule is still a good indicator of who the fiscal conservatives are. In the House, here are the Republicans who scored above that mark, with their score in parentheses.
Henry Burns (89)
Kevin Pearson (88)
Mike Huval (86)
Taylor Barras (84)
John Guinn (84)
Julie Stokes (83)
Thomas Willmott (82)
Jim Morris (81)
Blake Miguez (80)
Sherman Mack (78)
Joe Lopinto (77)
Bob Hensgens (77)
Valerie Hodges (76)
Chris Leopold (76)
Out of the 58 strong Republican House delegation, only 23 scored 75% or above from LABI. This means we have a lot of work to do in the upcoming year. There were even two Republicans who scored worse than Democrat candidate for governor John Bel Edwards (26). Those two are “fiscal conservative” Jay Morris and Kenny Havard, both scoring 25.
There were some RINOs singled out by LABI for their anti-business votes. Here’s how LABI described the head of the Republican delegation, our buddy Lance Harris:
A vocal leader in the House to raise taxes on employers of all sizes.
Jay Morris was also singled out for his “fiscal conservatism.”
Argued strongly on both the House floor and social media for the need to raise tax revenue.
Last but certainly not least in the House, Speaker Chuck Kleckley was singled out for his work trying to raise business utility taxes even more so he and his buddy Lance Harris, could oppose raising the cigarette tax further. Oh by the way, Kleckley and Harris are both C-store owners.
In the closing days of session, Rep. Kleckley pushed to increase taxes on business utilities by an extra $200 million.
The Senate side is even more depressing. Other than Guillory; only Jonathan Perry, Joey Amedee, and Dale Erdey scored above a 75. Only 9 Senators scored above a 59.
We expect that the business community will decide to punish many of these guys for their votes this year. This is certainly good news for challengers who are looking to raise money.