A fallen “Fiscal Hawk” Friday, May 22 2015 

Cameron Henry

A fallen hawk

During the 2014 Regular Session, Republican Senator Neil Riser sneaked into law a $55k annual retirement increase for the Mike Edmonson, Superintendent of Louisiana State Police (“LSP”), into a Conference Committee Report.   Thanks to a lawsuit by Senator Dan Claitor, the sneak attack was declared unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the LSP came back with another sneak attack to increase our taxes by $100 Million. ( See report here.)

Taxes vs. Fees

This time, Republican Representative Cameron Henry aided and abetted Edmonson in increasing our taxes camouflaged as a “fee.” He did it via an amendment to House Bill 833 in a senate committee.  The amendment doubles the cost of obtaining a motor vehicle title and duplicate title from $50 to $100.

Calling something a “fee” does make it one.  See: Audubon Insurance vs. Bernard 434 So.2d 1072.  If the charge produces more than necessary to provide the service, i.e. providing a certificate, it is a “tax.”

LSP way

One might ask why the LSP didn’t introduce legislation to increase the tax straight up.  That’s not the LSP’s way. “We were looking for a bill to put it on,” Edmonson said. Advocate, May 21, 2015.

In other words, Edmonson never planned to pass this tax straight up.  The LSP lege m.o. is to wait until a piece of legislation is already moving through the process then add an amendment.  That way it denies public input.

It’s bad enough that the leges are increasing our taxes right and left to fix a problem they created, but to do so in such an under-handed way is beyond the pale.

Henry was a leader of the defunct “Fiscal Hawks.”  Now Henry has become one of those he used to rail against.

It make me angry! The lege corrupts them all.

Kudos to Marsha Shuler for catching this sneak attack.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill
 

Urgent Message from Elliott Stonecipher Wednesday, May 20 2015 

Elliott Stonecipher

 

This afternoon  I was truly shocked by a report in the Baton Rouge Business Report’s Daily Report about my friend  Elliott Stonecipher.   It appeared to be a 180 degree turn from everything stands for.   

I’ve had some rotten things done to me by the paid media, but this is beyond the pale.

Elliott shows remarkable restraint in his response below.

C.B.

 

May 20, 2015

It takes a good four hours to drive back from Baton Rouge to Shreveport, or to drive down there in the first place.  Before I even made it back this afternoon, even some of my friends were calling or emailing their disapproval for published reports that I was “in favor” of raising state taxes, and was leading a “purple coalition” to elect so-called “moderate Republicans.”None of that is true, to put it mildly.  No, I have not lost my mind.  I do not believe Louisiana should raise taxes.  I did not say – anywhere – that Louisiana should raise taxes.  Period.  No one who has spent five minutes listening to me for the last many years, or reading what I have written for those years believes I want to see any government raise our taxes.The ruckus started when a person I’ve never heard of purposely misstated points I made in a speaking engagement today at the Rotary of Baton Rouge.  It is a great place to speak, and I’ve been fortunate to speak to that stellar group before, but I’ve never had my work there hijacked by any attendee who intended harm.  This is new territory for me.There were some 250 people there today, and given what the many who spoke to me afterward said to my face, no one heard what this supposed “reporter” for the Baton Rouge Business Report has written.My speech was “Politics Not As Usual.”  My task was to complete comments from the first half of this talk which I made to the group in 2013, and to explain what I believe is happening in our governor’s race.  Quoting LSU’s Bob Mann from a piece he wrote last week, I explained the move underway by some Democrats to vote for a moderate Republican.  As one might expect, Mr. Edwards is strongly opposed, and I quoted from his response, too.

Going further, I pointed out that Democrats in that camp – if not others – are hoping to find a new Governor who will raise taxes, which I said is what many believe about Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.  As I put it, verbatim:

“If such succeeds, we then begin discussing a new political coalition:  A ‘purple coalition’ actively working to block the election of Republicans who are ‘too’ conservative.”

Not only did I not in any way imply that I or anyone else would “lead” such a coalition, I stressed, as many have heard me say and explain before, the fallacy of tax increases.  This is what I spoke and stressed, and I hope everyone will read it as it was delivered:

“As we now and again study likely effects of the current oil price battering, any case for increased revenue is seriously undermined by the most basic statistics of growth in spending without growth in population, including of taxpayers.  The stage for this debate was set in 1986, Year 1 of our original and catastrophic oil price collapse.

Total state spending in 1986 was $6.8 billion, which equals $14.5 billion when adjusted for inflation.  Total state spending in 2014 was $26.1 billion.  So, over those 28 years, we have increased spending 80% … over and above a 113% inflation adjustment.  (Emphasis mine, as spoken.)

Putting that 80% spending increase in context, it has occurred while our population – especially including our population of taxpayers – has stagnated.  In those 28 years from July 1, 1986 through July 1, 2014, our population has increased only 5.51%, ranking us 49th of 50 states.  West Virginia is 50th with a population loss of -1.7%.  To put that in context, the United States population has increased 6-times ours during that period … and all states in our region have raced past us:  Mississippi 3-times our 5.51% growth, Alabama and Oklahoma 4-times, Arkansas 5-times, Tennessee 7-times, South Carolina 8-times, North Carolina 10-times, Texas 11-times, Georgia 12-times and Florida 13-times.”

As I write this – its just short of 6:00 PM the same day – the Baton Rouge Business Report version has been picked up by one blogger – who quotes – of course – the Baton Rouge Business Report.  I am no friend of Governor Jindal, and have been one of his loudest critics for over seven years.  The Business Report has been, to put it mildly, the exact opposite.  The noted blogger has attacked me before, though I have never known why.

I have no other explanations for this attempted political hit.

I thank the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge for having me today.  It was a wonderful gathering, as it always is.  This attempt to misrepresent so much of my years of pro bono work for Louisiana will not ruin that for me.

For any who need me to say it again, here it is:  I am not for any kind of tax increase in my home town, or parish, or state.  I hope the direct quotes above make that clear.  That many Democrats may hope to accomplish that, as described in my comments today, and in this article, is a fact.

We will all see how that turns out.  No one is less attached to any candidate, or more interested in the outcome, than I am.

Elliott Stonecipher

(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party.  He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article.  His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted.  Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)

Paper exposes another lege myth Wednesday, May 20 2015 

Myth

For years we’ve heard claims by Louisiana leges that governors of Louisiana are more powerful than governors in other states.  They claim it is because of power given them our state constitution.

Now, businessman and former Hammond City Councilman Tony Licciardi who is pursuing a PhD at UNO has written a paper ( see here) exposing the myth of the source of the Louisiana governor’s power.

The paper notes, when compared to the legal authority of other state governors, Louisiana ranks at or below median ratings of the fifty state governors.  For example, governors in forty-four states have the power of line-item veto.  That is most powerful tool exercised by any governor.

Reduction in power

Further, contrary to the allegations by the leges, the governor’s power was reduced by the 1974 Constitution, not increased.  Pre-1974, the governor filled all vacancies in the Judiciary and local governing authorities.

The truth

In writing the paper, in addition to significant academic research, Licciardi interviewed as diverse a group of people as former 4-term governor Edwin W. Edwards and yours truly.    EWE has some interesting comments in the paper about how cheaply leges can be bought.

When it comes to the gubernatorial power complained about by the leges, Licciardi concludes:

The governor of Louisiana does not exercise such influence derived from constitutional or statutory rights, this power is willfully abdicated by a legislative body unwilling to act independently or responsibility.

Licciardi’s research removes another excuse for the leges allowing Bobby Jindal to run our state into a fiscal abyss.    He provides academic research to support what many already knew from empirical evidence.  It didn’t have to happen, the leges allowed it to happen.

The next time your lege tell you he couldn’t get something accomplished because the state constitution gives the governor’s power, tell him you know better.  Next excuse?

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill
 

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