Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Elections have consequences

Back in November, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry did something they don't always do. They endorsed a candidate for Governor.
Less than 10 days before the gubernatorial election, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has picked up the endorsement of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, arguably the state's most powerful lobbying entity.

LABI's endorsement in a gubernatorial campaign is fairly rare and -- in this case -- appears to be as much about concerns over state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the Democrat in the race, as it is about Vitter, a Republican. The organization has only endorsed in three gubernatorial elections in the last 35 years, according to Stephen Waguespack, LABI's president.
They lost.  That's too bad for them. It's also too bad for the people in Flint, Michigan right now.
The race for the White House has put Flint’s water crisis in the spotlight — but it hasn’t been enough to move a $250 million aid package backed by Michigan’s congressional delegation.

A day after both Democratic candidates for the White House called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to resign or be recalled, two Republican senators kept their holds on the bill in place.

Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and David Vitter (La.) have different reasons for their holds, which keep the bill from being approved by the Senate under unanimous consent.

Vitter’s hold is intended to win concessions dealing with fishing in the Gulf of Mexico on a related energy bill.
While Senator Vitter is still in Washington fighting for dirty water, his LABI friends are in Baton Rouge fighting for dirty pennies
A state Senate committee on Tuesday passed an amendment that would remove the exemptions from the four existing state sales tax pennies, a move opposed by business lobbyists who would rather lawmakers increase the sales tax hike beyond just the one penny proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The amendment, which has to go to the Senate and the House for approval, could generate an estimated $100 million this year and $450 million next year, said state Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, who sponsored the original House Bill 61, which only called for removing exemptions, or “cleaning,” one penny. Morris said he didn’t support the amendment.

“It goes too far,” he said following the vote.

At the committee meeting, Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Industry and Business, testified against removing exemptions on sales taxes, urging the Legislature to instead move forward with a plan to increase the state sales tax beyond just the single penny to generate more revenue to close the budget shortfalls for this year and next.
The good news is, they've moved the Republicans off of their absolutely-no-new-revenue pose and onto debating the question of who pays.   Now things are pretty simple. 

Under the 5 "clean pennies" plan, we will have raised one additional cent in sales tax. That's bad (all options are bad right now) because sales taxes are regressive taxes which disproportionately affect the poor. But the additional penny will likely sunset in either 18 months or 5 years so the effect is temporary. Meanwhile, cleaning the other 4 pennies means business will at least share some of that burden making a regressive tax slightly less inequitable.

Under the LABI plan, the business exemptions remain in place and the revenue is made up by adding another half penny or so on top.  So instead of sharing at least some of the burden, we will just be caking on more regressive taxes.  

But, see, LABI just lost an election so they don't actually get to make all the decisions. Also, when they did, that didn't work out so great anyway.
But Waguespack, who formerly worked as chief of staff in the Jindal administration and was involved in pushing some of the Republican governor’s budget plans, was not a welcomed guest before the majority Democratic committee.

“It’s hard for me to trust you, you helped create the problem we have,” said Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, to Waguespack amid his testimony opposing eliminating the exemptions. “You have no credibility. The things you have said ended us up in mid-year cuts every year.”
This afternoon they all went up the Governor's office and talked over some kind of deal... according to the Twitters.  We all know the whole budget will be written up in conference at the end of the session anyway.  So almost nothing that's passed so far looks anything like what we'll end up with.  

No comments: