C.B. Forgotston calls it “the lowest of a lot of low points” in Louisiana legislative history.
He says legislators have “already abdicated their constitutional responsibility to Bobby Jindal,” and now they are pleading with a non-resident of Louisiana “for help doing their jobs.”
Sadly, we agree.
In the waning days of the 2015 legislative session 11 Republican members of the Louisiana House are groveling to Grover.
Eleven state representatives who made all kinds of promises when they ran for office, chief among the promises they most likely made was one in which they swore their independence and ability to represent you, their constituents, and to not be beholden to the special interests.
But now the Elastic Eleven, as we shall call them from this point forward, have revealed their collective feet of clay as the legislative session winds to a close by begging Sir Grover, the sole possessor of that is wise, to please, sir, won’t you reconsider your “no tax” pledge so that we won’t incur the wrath of Grovernor Jindal?
The 11 spineless legislators, all members of the House Ways and Means Committee, otherwise known as Norquist’s House “No-way and by No Means Committee,” following the lead of Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux of Lafayette, have each signed off on a letter to Grover Norquist dated today (Monday, June 8) but apparently written and faxed Sunday night whining that Jindal “intends to veto the 2015-16 Louisiana State Budget and/or revenue measures if the legislature doesn’t approve Senate Bill 284 (SB284),” otherwise known as the Student Assessment for Valuable Education, or SAVE credit program.
The SAVE bill is an illusion from the get-go, creating money out of thin air, apparently from bit coins, as Stephen Winham has already explained in LouisianaVoice. The bill would establish a new higher education tax credit to cover a nonexistent student fee, which makes no sense whatever. It would save families and students zilch on their college bills while creating the illusion of a tax break worth of David Copperfield. Which, according to the gospel of Grover, would allow Jindal to claim in his equally illusionist—and delusional—quest for the Republic president nomination that the credit would “offset” other tax increases being proposed.
“We are told that SB284 would allow him to remain in compliance with ATR’s (Norquist’s personal organization Americans for Tax Reform) ‘no tax pledge.’ However, we do not have any direct confirmation from your organization that this is actually the case.”
No direct confirmation from Norquist’s organization? Do these so-called leaders need permission or confirmation from Norquist before they can go form an opinion? Good God, what have we become in this state that our legislators have to go kiss the ring of some guy in Washington, D.C. before they can make a decision? Are we living in a bad version of The Godfather where Don Vito Corleone must be consulted on every move that is made?
Here’s a news flash, folks: Grover Norquist is not a resident of Louisiana, he does not pay taxes in Louisiana and, most of all, he does not vote in Louisiana. So why do you give a rat’s behind what he thinks?
“We are deeply concerned about the clear and present danger posed by this bill,” their letter said. “As conservative Republican legislators, we firmly believe SB 284 is the biggest threat to fiscal responsibility our state has ever faced.”
So, what, exactly is the problem? If it’s a bad bill, kill it in committee. Problem solved.
But they can’t do that. They’re so upset by all of this and so intimidated by Norquist that a tear probably ran down each member’s leg as they signed the letter.
“Mr. Norquist, we are proud to have enacted numerous genuine tax cuts in our time here, primarily to attract business and grow our economy,” the letter continues. “Over the last 5 years, these reductions have save Louisiana taxpayers over $2.1 billion. Over the past 7 years, the duration of Governor Jindal’s term, the reductions have topped $2.7 billion.”
My God in heaven. How pathetic is that?
And just how well have those tax cuts, by their own admission granted “primarily to attract business,” worked out for Louisiana? Well, according to various surveys we have:
- The highest poverty rate in the nation;
- The third highest income disparity between its richest and poorest citizens;
- The second highest disparity of income between men and women (yet the legislature continues to defeat bills to close that gap);
- The sixth worst ranking in terms of employee economic mobility (opportunity for advancement);
- The fifth lowest percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees;
- The fourth worst infrastructure in the U.S.
- The 23rd lowest average salary and the seventy-lowest median household income;
- The 17th lowest domestic product growth;
- The nation’s second highest cancer mortality rate;
Couple that with our ranking as third from the bottom in quality of life, ninth worst state in which to be unemployed and dead last in business climate, and the picture just isn’t very encouraging.
And it seems the Elastic Eleven, while boasting of that $2.7 billion in tax cuts, mostly to corporations and certainly not the middle class or lower income segments of the population, have conveniently overlooked the current $1.6 billion budget hole those cuts have dug the state into.
“It is our profound hope that you will be able to take a few minutes from your busy schedule to review this matter and contact us at your earliest possible convenience,” the letter concludes. “The taxpayers of Louisiana anxiously await your timely reply.”
What?!!! Busy schedule? Review this matter? Your earliest convenience? The taxpayers?
To paraphrase former New Orleans Saints Coach Jim Mora: “The TAXPAYERS? The TAXPAYERS? Don’t talk to me about the taxpayers!” You no longer speak for the taxpayers. You are crouched in your collective fear of a lame duck governor and a non-resident who apparently is calling all the shots.
Are you truly concerned about the taxpayers? Well, surely there are a goodly number of Louisiana taxpayers in your respective districts who have very strong feelings, one way or another, about taxes.
So why do you feel the need to get the opinion of an absentee governor who long ago quit caring about this state or some yahoo in Washington before you are brave enough to venture off to the restroom to make tee-tee or butt pudding?
Do us all a favor. Grow a set. Right or wrong, be your own person. That’s what you were elected to do.
Those members besides Robideaux who signed this humiliating letter were Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, Lance Harris of Alexandria, Joe Harrison of Gray, Cameron Henry of Metairie, Eddie Lambert of Gonzales, Nancy Landry of Lafayette, Jay Morris of Monroe, Jim Morris of Oil City, John Schroder of Covington and Kirk Talbot of River Ridge.
Perhaps C.B. said it best: “I am calling on all of the legislators who signed onto this letter to resign immediately. You are an embarrassment to our state.”
To that we would add: if they won’t resign then perhaps the voters in their respective districts can help them with that difficult decision in October.
Oh, one more thing. Whoever is in charge of the legislative web pages should do a little updating. Of the 11 who signed the letter, only Robideaux and Lambert are listed on the web page as members of the Ways and Means Committee which must mean the web page is hopelessly out of date for anyone who wanted to do a little research.
Or was web maintenance among Jindal’s budget cuts?