Business scorecard delivers poor grades for most of Legislature

The annual legislative scorecard compiled by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry was released Tuesday and includes a grade of “F” for 94 members of the Louisiana Legislature.

The rankings represent a major review for some lawmakers, who rely on their scores to trigger campaign donations from LABI’s political action committees. The need for cash and support is even more noticeable this year, with elections slated for the fall.

It’s no secret that lawmakers leaned heavily on business to close a $1.6 billion budget shortfall, passing a slew of measures that amount to tax increases. Although LABI and others managed to negotiate sunsets on the measures, meaning they’ll expire in one to three years in some cases, the business lobby walked away from the session feeling many lawmakers had switched jerseys in the final session of their term.

“The scorecard will reflect that,” said LABI president Stephen Waguespack, who wrote in the scorecard’s introduction that “this was the highest tax increase in Louisiana in decades.”

The majority of lawmakers received a grade of “F” this session, with 64 failing in the House and 30 in the Senate, which will make pulling money out of LABI’s political action committees this fall all the more difficult. It could also open up new opportunities for incumbents to be challenged. Only two lawmakers failed to break 20 percent, including Rep. Jack Montoucent, D-Crowley, with 16 percent, and Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, with 18 percent. Only 12 lawmakers earned “A” grades.

According to Camille P. Conaway, LABI’s vice president for policy and research, the bills that raised taxes were weighted heavily in the scorecard, pulling down the 2015 and overall cumulative scores for a number of legislators.

Between half and two-thirds of the 2015 score relies on the tax votes, she added.

But LABI isn’t the only group with a scorecard that causes heartburn for tax-supporting Republicans. The Louisiana chapter of the conservative Americans For Prosperity released its tally last week.

AFP has already sunk $60,000 into radio ads promoting and may dump just as much into fall field operations like door-to-door outreach and online advertising.

“It was a disappointing session with legislators throwing tax after tax at the wall to see what would stick,” saidAFP’s state director Phillip Joffrion.

The radio spot lashes out at lawmakers for passing “gimmicks, short term fixes and over $700 million in tax hikes” to balance the budget, and for adopting “a scheme to usher in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.”

About Jeremy Alford 159 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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