- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A new radio ad launching Tuesday from an anti-tax organization targets state lawmakers who supported tax hikes and lessened tax breaks to balance this year’s budget, seeking to highlight those votes as fall elections near.

The Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity is spending $60,000 for the advertising statewide, coupling it with door-knocking and phone calls to voters, directing them to a website that shows how lawmakers voted on certain financial bills.

“Instead of solving our budget problems, the state turned to gimmicks, short-term fixes and over $700 million in tax hikes on individuals and businesses,” a female narrator in the radio spot says.

Lawmakers, many of whom are seeking re-election on the Oct. 24 ballot or who are running for other offices, said they expected attacks for budget-balancing votes they took. But they defended the more than $700 million in tax and fee money they generated for this year as needed to avoid steep cuts to public health care services and colleges.

Phillip Joffrion, Louisiana state director for Americans for Prosperity, said lawmakers didn’t consider fundamental spending and tax reforms that could have put the state on a more sustainable, long-term financial path.

“This radio ad is to ensure that the citizens of Louisiana are educated about what just happened in the last legislative session,” Joffrion said. “The citizens of Louisiana do not support raising taxes to balance the budget.”

Americans for Prosperity is the main political advocacy group for Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers who spend millions on conservative causes.

The organization is highlighting lawmakers’ votes on eight measures passed before the legislative session ended in June. Visitors to the website can type in their address to find their state representative and state senator and how they voted on the legislation highlighted.

Among the bills on the list are a 50-cent cigarette tax hike that also added a new tax on electronic cigarettes and vapor products; the temporary suspension of a 1 cent sales tax exemption on business utilities; and three bills that scaled back business subsidies by 20 percent and 28 percent across the board through June 2018.

Joffrion said the list includes the $24.5 billion budget bill, because “it used tax increases to balance the budget.” Also scored on the website is legislation that provides a financing mechanism to expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program under the federal health care law if Louisiana’s next governor, to be elected this fall, is interested.

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Online: www.LouisianaScorecard.com


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