Several local state legislators have received top honors this week from a Louisiana business advocacy organization.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry released its 2017 Legislative Scorecard on Monday, recognizing both State Rep. Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, State Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, and Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, as “Most Valuable Policymakers” for “perfect scores on major legislation that affected the state’s economy,” according to a prepared statement from LABI.
“I think they (LABI) quoted me once before, I said, ‘Louisiana needs a big, flashing sign that says: Back Open for Business,’” Miguez said Tuesday. “We need to make the business environment as friendly as possible. We’ve lost a tremendous amount of jobs in the state — the Acadiana area lost around 20,000 jobs. But I generally believe the economy can come back.”
Miguez said the state does not need to raise taxes on businesses and individual residents, but rather needs to concentrate on bringing in more jobs by creating a stable and certain tax and litigation environment.
“There are some coastal lawsuits coming in from DNR and elsewhere and that doesn’t help business in Louisiana,” he said.
“The state has a fiscal problem right now, so we need to create more jobs and get more people working; then you have more revenue in service tax, in income tax, in sales tax. That’s how you fund state government — not by raising taxes on whoever is still around.”
Allain issued a statement from San Diego, where he is attending a sugar convention.
“As a business man and farmer, I know first hand the importance of government developing the right policies and programs to grow the economy without overburdening hard-working citizens with unnecessary regulations and taxes,” the statement read.
Allain was the only senator to receive a score of 100 percent from LABI.
Attempts to reach Barras were unsuccessful.
Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, received a score of 63 percent.
“I try to work closely with all groups for economic development,” Mills said. “Some years they’ve scored me 100, some years they’ve scored me 50. It’s hard to vote 100 percent with any group.”
Mills said he had not seen the scorecard as of Tuesday evening, and could not offer more comment without studying the bills included in the scoring.
“They can use very selective legislation,” he said. “I don’t think it’s reflective of all the decisions we make.”
LABI, throughout the 2017 fiscal season, “championed bills to deregulate overly burdensome industries,” “advocated for market-driven wage policies,” and defended “innovation and choice in K-12 education,” according to a prepared statement. LABI also was “proud to be a part of a diverse coalition to support criminal justice reform legislation” that reinvests in rehabilitation and re-entry initiatives.
“While the state’s economy has shown some signs of rebounding we are still facing a $1.2 billion shortfall next year,” LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack said. “It is important now more than ever that our elected leaders work together to find a reasonable solution that promotes economic growth and promotes the needs of taxpayers.”
Barras and Miguez both made significant jumps up the LABI scorecard from last year, from 88 percent and 83 percent, respectively, to their perfect scores this year. The complete scorecard, a list and description of bills used in scoring, and a description of the scoring methodology, are available at http://labi.org/score-card.