Editor’s Note: A guest post from Shreveport demographer and political analyst Elliot Stonecipher.
It isn’t every morning that I smile more or less all the way through my cereal, and I write to gladly credit The Advocate for thus kicking-off my day. In fairness, though, I stipulate that those now in charge of Louisiana’s go-to daily newspaper had no such intention. They, I am certain, are not smiling.
The Advocate, I believe it is fair to say, has taken Louisiana’s ideological lead in the several special legislative sessions we have now suffered through since Governor John Bel Edwards was elected. Notwithstanding that many journalists there have long been friends of mine, I believe it is also fair to say the newspaper is totally committed to even higher taxes, especially personal income taxes … always.
With that bit between its journalistic teeth, The Advocate Sunday morning continued chastising any who oppose our governor’s tax-and-spend, politically partisan credo. I proudly declare myself among those thus chastised.
In a notable such article today, the newspaper slaps we who are pinchers of government-spending pennies with a new brand. As reporter Tyler Bridges puts it in his article:
“In general, Republican legislators who opposed the governor’s measures said they heard a clear message from the hell-no-don’t-raise-my-taxes crowd.”
Shoot, I wish I’d thought of that myself! Yes, indeed, I proudly wear the label, and am pleased to spread word of it: I Am a Hell-No-Don’t-Raise-My-Taxes guy, and proud as heck of the fact! It directly traces, after all, to how I live my life.
And, I have good, cold, hard facts to back-up my credo.
As I wrote in an article – here – last week, even before the final $300 million in new taxes the legislature voted in the final two days of its session this past week, state government’s core, general fund spending was +23.8% higher in the current fiscal year than just 11 years ago, in FY 2004-2005. Our population during that period rose a weak +3.3%. In between, we spent some $160 billion in additional disaster-related revenue.
(My thanks to Will Broyles’ RealShreveport.com, Scott McKay’s The Hayride, and Chad Rogers’ The Dead Pelican for posting that article.)
Oh, About Those Education “Cuts” …
As if to be certain my smiles lasted as long as my cereal, (excellent) education writer Will Sentell sought to stress in his article how a mere $2.3 billion in new taxes has left Louisiana public schools in dire shape. Although reporters don’t write their own headlines, this one in the online edition was stunningly hooey-filled:
The full and even more ridiculous quote upon which the headline was based came from the Louisiana Association of Educators honcho: “It is going to be devastating for some of our school districts, some of our teachers and certainly for our kids.”
There it is. Before the worst tax-and-spenders are done, we who oppose them simply must be accused of harming children.
How’s this for “devastating cuts.” The “cuts” total $24 million dollars, and are in the “supplemental” funds to local districts, not the bread-and-butter the Minimum Foundation Program. The “MFP” is fully funded.
Now, let’s put that $24 million “cut” in context.
According to the Louisiana Department of Education, total spending in our 70 public school districts now hits almost $9.0 billion a year. To be precise, in the most recent LDE data-year, 2014- 2015, taxpayers shelled out $8,779,826,691.
For those without a handy calculator, that means the subject “cut” is three-tenths of one percent … exactly, 0.0027.
The bogus and incessant “we don’t have enough money” by political partisans is far past merely offensive.
Not long ago, most people did not spend what they did not have. These yet among us are proud of saving money. We are proud, too, of only taking on debt in necessary – affordable – ways. We believe it is a good thing to cut our spending when and where advisable, even if not absolutely necessary. We honor labor, pay our taxes, and take care of others.
I wish our new governor and his tax-and-spend army honored these principles … and we who believe and live them.