Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge) was the author of HB 632, or the infamous gas tax increase bill.
The Republican Party of Louisiana and Americans For Prosperity fought the bill and ultimately defeated it. Carter was forced to pull the bill on Wednesday, falling 10-15 votes short of the 70 votes need for passage.
The Republican Party passed a resolution condemning the Gas Tax, and included a jab at the four Republicans who helped the bill get past the Ways & Means committee: Paula Davis (R-Baton Rouge), Clay Schexnayder (R-French Settlement), Barry Ivey (R-Central) and Julie Stokes (R-Kenner), who happens to be running for State Treasurer.
Carter took to the microphone on the House floor yesterday upon conceding defeat and proceeded to blast the LAGOP and AFP for their opposition to his tax increase. “As you can tell I’m frustrated,” said Rep. Carter.
In the video, Carter chastises the party for “narrowly passing” a resolution “by the slimmest margin,” but neglects to mention that his bill HB 632 was in the process of being not-so-narrowly defeated – a result that multiple polls indicated followed the will of a sizable majority of the state’s voters. Carter seems bewildered that the Republican Party of LA would word its resolution “in opposition of passing a gas tax…ever.” Perhaps Carter doesn’t know about Republican opposition to taxes.
“The state Republican Party I used to know, puts value in such pro-growth policies that expands jobs and opportunities for our citizens,” said Carter, in a perplexing statement given the traditional success of Republican candidates running on an anti-tax platform.
“My party has been influenced by an out-of-touch, out-of-state bankrolled group the Americans for Prosperity,” he then thundered, “who care less for the every day problems of Louisiana citizens than they do for spreading ideologically based lies about a solution that could help the people of Louisiana.”
Americans For Prosperity’s Louisiana chapter has mobilized over 40,000 people to participate in grassroots advocacy. Every staffer in that organization’s Louisiana chapter hails from inside the state. Carter put a great deal of effort into carrying a bad bill as far as he did, so some of his rhetoric can be excused as a perhaps unwise, but somewhat understandable blowing-off of steam.
But some of it can’t. What happened yesterday wasn’t a surprise – that tax hike bill was a long shot from the beginning, and Steve Carter knew it. He also knew his bill was unpopular with the public, that many of its amendments made it worse, that even many of those of his colleagues who agreed to support it had major reservations, that DOTD, the recipient of the funds the tax hike would have supplied, is poorly thought of across the state and that trying to raise taxes after the legislature just raised $1.5 billion of them last year was a foolhardy thing to do.
Steve Carter knew these things and yet he ran with his gas tax hike bill anyway. The results were predictable, and his bitterness and lashing-out against the LAGOP leadership, which is elected to represent, as of today, 896,000 people, and AFP’s additional 42,000, only compounds the wrongheadedness of this tirade.
Carter is term-limited. He’s been a popular state representative, and he’s been rumored as a candidate for the state Senate in 2019. This speech all but guarantees he’ll have a challenger on the right, and a well-funded one. A bit more humility would have done him a world of good.