This could never happen – but it happened


Newspaper headlines and articles across the state are criticizing the Republican controlled legislature as it went on the biggest spending spree in Louisiana history. Our legislature was not legally entitled to spend every dollar of the enormous surplus. In Louisiana, we have protections to stop this type of spending spree. It’s called a “spending cap.” Two-thirds of each chamber of the legislature has to vote go beyond it and spend everything. Since two-thirds of our legislature is Republican, this could never happen. Well, it did happen.

The 2023 legislative session was a planned disaster

This was probably the most consequential terrible decision the legislature has made in the last fifteen years. Even now, one week after session ended, no one (including legislators) is entirely sure where all the money is going. That’s a huge problem, considering it was all approved – sight unseen – in the session’s waining moments. Why do we even need a legislature if they’re going to approve such massive spending without even looking at it?

This year’s entire budget was decided in conference committee controlled by only six people: Page Cortez (R 1/10), Bodi White (R 6/10), and Greg Tarver (D 1/10) for the Senate and Zee Zeringue (R 3/10), Clay Schexnayder (R 1/10), and Jason Hughes (D 1/10) for the House. Normally, the mainstream media is quick to defend our terrible legislature. This time it’s different, though. Session was so horrendous that even the Advocate is complaining! They keenly observe that the entire reason Louisiana can’t ever get ahead is due to its “incompetent legislators.” Welcome to the club, Advocate – finally.

Content made possible by:
BB's Auto Sales

Sanity needed only 36 in the house

36 legislators were needed to block the spending spree.

If you want to get the full backstory, check out our earlier article Only 36 to hold the line. “Busting the cap” as it is popularly known in the “hallowed halls” of our state capitol, is really just spending more than the law allows. To do that, a super-majority of both the house and senate need to agree. The instrument to accomplish that purpose was a Senate Concurrent Resolution.

SCR3 was introduced by Page Cortez (R 1/10) on March 31st. That should be plenty of time. However, the senate sat on it for nearly two months, finally turning it over to the house with only seven days to go before session ended. That same day Clay Schexnayder (R 1/10) tried to ram the resolution into the Appropriations committee faster than the rules allow. However 41 representatives said “no”. The main reason was simply that no one had seen where the “leadership” planned to spend that extra $2.4 BILLION. In fact, days later Clay Schexnayder (R 1/10) admitted that he still did not know on what the Senate was planning to spend the extra money. And yet, he had the chutzpa to ask for it anyway!

The test vote to see how many representatives would potentially vote to block exceeding the spending limit was the “suspend the rules” vote to send it to committee. That’s because suspending (breaking) the rules requires the same two-thirds vote as exceeding the spending limit. Below, I’ve grouped member votes into categories.

The courageous 19

If you want to know what real leadership looks like, here’s your list. It’s made up of the nineteen (19) individuals in the House who had the backbones to stand up until the very end. All Louisianans say courage is the number one thing they’re looking for in a legislator. If you recognize yours on this list, then call, email, or give them a social media shout out for their courageous stance. It’s no coincidence that most of these legislators already appear in the top 10% of our legislative scorecard.

  1. Beryl Amedee (R 9/10),
  2. Tony Bacala (R 7/10),,
  3. Raymond Crews (R 8/10),
  4. Kathy Edmonston (R 9/10),
  5. Julie Emerson (R 9/10),
  6. Larry Frieman (R 9/10),
  7. Ray Garofalo (R 6/10),
  8. Brett Geymann (R 8/10),
  9. Jonathan Goudeau (R 7/10),
  10. Valarie Hodges (R 9/10),
  11. Dodie Horton (R 8/10),
  12. Sherman Mack (R 6/10),
  13. Danny McCormick (R 10/10),
  14. Blake Miguez (R 9/10),
  15. Chuck Owen (R 8/10),
  16. Rodney Schamerhorn (R 7/10),
  17. Alan Seabaugh (R 9/10),
  18. Phillip Tarver (R 7/10)
  19. Polly Thomas (R 6/10).

The 23 that folded to the pressure

The procedural vote to break the rules and send SCR3 straight to committee showed who might stand up for fiscal responsibility later. Unfortunately, these legislators passed the quiz but failed the final exam. Because they succumb to pressure, JBE was able to set the state’s checkbook ablaze. As one of these legislators so aptly put it, “Integrity is not doing what’s easy or what’s popular; it’s doing what’s right.” Unfortunately, they didn’t follow their own advice.

  1. Rhonda Butler (R 6/10),
  2. Robby Carter (D 1/10),
  3. Mack Cormier (D 2/10),
  4. Daryl Deshotel (R 7/10),
  5. Phillip DeVillier (R 7/10),
  6. Mary DuBuisson (R 4/10),
  7. Rick Edmonds (R 8/10),
  8. Les Farnum (R 4/10),
  9. Gabe Firment (R 8/10),
  10. Foy Gadberry (R 7/10),
  11. Lance Harris (R 6/10),
  12. Paul Hollis (R 6/10),
  13. John Illg (R 6/10),
  14. Mike Johnson (R 6/10),
  15. Jack McFarland (R 7/10),
  16. Nick Muscarello (R 6/10),
  17. Richard Nelson (R 2/10),
  18. Joseph Orgeron (R 6/10),
  19. Thomas Pressly (R 5/10),
  20. Troy Romero (R 6/10),
  21. Laurie Schlegel (R 7/10),
  22. Debbie Villio (R 6/10),
  23. Mark Wright (R 7/10).

Other “Conservative Caucus” members who never showed up

According to their website, the Louisiana Conservative Caucus has a total of 41 members. There are a smattering of them above. Being a member of the caucus should mean something. However, voting to spend every penny in the treasury is certainly not a conservative principal. And yet, four members of the caucus did just that. Not only did they fail the exam, they also failed the quiz.

  1. Bryan Fontenot (R 6/10)
  2. Neil Riser (R 5/10)
  3. Michael Echols (R 8/10)
  4. Bill Wheat (R 5/10) who I understand is no longer a caucus member.

The Senate 7 that folded

@PiperHutchison Sen. Jeremy Stine is showing off a piece of paper pinned to his lapel. He’s crossed out “36,” and scrawled “19” next to it. Clear jab at the conservatives wearing “36” pins, in reference to the number needed to obstruct busting the spending cap. Only 19 held to it. #lalege

While the initial vote in the senate was unanimous (39-0), believe it or not, the second vote was not. It was a procedural requirement because the instrument was past deadline (Constitution 3 § 2 (3)(a)). Unfortunately, this little Senate rebellion wasn’t significant enough. The vote would have required about fourteen (14) opposed, but only achieved seven (7). Those seven (7) were an odd mix, too. Conservatives wanted to take their initial vote back. However, the reason for the Democrat’s vote is anyone’s guess.

Team Terrible

Finally, we can’t leave without listing the Representatives and Senators who absolutely should have known better. One could rightly argue that the list should include every single one of them. However, these nine (9) stood out to me. Most are running for higher office. Others were overly enthusiastic in their support for emptying the treasury.

Content made possible by:
Allen Edmonds Ad
  1. Senator Sharon Hewitt (R 7/10) is an announced candidate for Governor. She voted for the spending spree at each and every opportunity.
  2. Representative Richard Nelson (R 2/10) is also an announced candidate for Governor. He held the line with the original 41, but quickly fell away when his vote truly mattered – surpassing the expenditure limit by $2 BILLION.
  3. Representative John Stefanski (R 5/10) is currently an announced candidate for Attorney General. He also voted for the spending spree at every chance.
  4. Representative Scott McKnight (R 5/10) is currently running for Treasurer. His campaign pledge is “cutting wasteful spending” – and yet he voted for it at every opportunity!
  5. Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R 1/10) is currently an announced candidate for Secretary of State. Not only did he vote for all of this foolishness, but he was the house-side representative pushing to break the spending rules.
  6. Tanner Magee (R 2/10) is the Speaker Pro Tempore. He’s been quite active on social media defending this bank heist – even though he probably still doesn’t know where all the money went. He’s one of several likely candidates for Speaker of the House next term.
  7. Jerome “Zee” Zeringue (R 3/10) is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee that overwhelmingly approved SCR3 without allowing for public comment. He’s actively running for Speaker of the House next term.
  8. Senator Jeremy Stine (R 7/10) is normally considered one of the most conservative in the senate. However he openly mocked the effort to allow legislators to look at the bill before voting on it. He’s referenced in the photo above.
  9. Senator Patrick McMath (R 5/10) joined Stine in mocking the effort to look at bills before voting on them.

That’s great, but what can I do about it?

What exactly does the Advocate mean by saying Louisiana’s problem is “incompetent legislators”? It means the voters have short memories. Many of the captains that navigated this spending spree are in their third term in office. Thankfully, we do have term limits. However, term limits also cost us some excellent legislators.

The solution, then, is for you to talk your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Church-goers about these misdeeds. Share this article with them, and on your social media pages. It’d also be a good idea to determine where your representative landed on this vote. Then, reach out to them directly to express your disappointment or thanks.

There are really only two things that bad politicians fear most: sunshine and the ballot box. On this rare occasion both are converging at once. We’re providing the first part – who voted for this garbage. The second part comes with October elections, which will be here before we know it. Louisiana is counting on you. It’s no time for voter amnesia.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This