In Part III on the annual Recap Luncheon held by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Representatives Joel Robideaux and Page Cortez talk about their efforts in the last session.

For previous articles on this Luncheon, click here: Part I, Part II.

Representative Joel Robideaux

Joel Robideaux began by pointing out that he is the Chairman of the Retirement Committee. He had been trying to think of something to say about the Retirement Committee, but just couldn't. Then he commented that Representative Cortez and he had suffered through that ordeal on behalf of the electorate, which brought laughter from the crowd.

Robideaux also explained that he serves on the Ways & Means Committee, and discussed the Stelly Tax. After Governor Blanco left, the Legislature had removed the part of the Stelly Plan that dealt with itemized deductions. Senator Shaw then asked to put the tables back to where they were before the Stelly Tax. Robideaux pointed out that Stelly is not really that big of a tax break, and that if someone's taxes had gone up from Stelly, they would go down the same amount. If that had not been the case, there would be no benefit from the repeal of Stelly.

He also explained that this is one issue where the Coeur Acadiana did not all agree. Robideaux personally opposed expanding the taxes, perhaps because of his training as a CPA. His feeling was that, because it was a simple bill, he didn't want to expand it to include people who weren't affected by Stelly.

Now it's like the Stelly Bill never existed. The shortfall will be covered from the increased cost of oil and gas. If it turns out that the Legislature has to make cuts because of the repeal of Stelly, he was in agreement with Representative Trahan, that it would be hard with this Legislature.

He then noted that the biggest tax change beside Stelly was probably the Tuition Tax credit. If a taxpayer pays tuition, he or she gets a tax break. Through the process, he continued, it came up that people who send children to public schools also have a lot of extraneous costs, including supplies and uniforms, so the Bill expanded. Now, any taxpayer with a child in school gets a tax break.

He closed by admitting that people without children don't get these tax breaks, but that the Legislature was simply trying to figure out how to get the most 'bang for the buck'.

Representative Page Cortez

Page Cortez spoke next, noting that he represented District 43, which had been Ernie Alexander's District, and included south Lafayette down through Broussard & Youngsville.

Cortez began by saying that he wanted to talk about the leadership of the Legislature, and noted that the Acadiana Delegation is represented by a large number of Committee Chairmen. He personally sat on the House Appropriations Committee as well as others. He felt that the various committees were well-represented, and carefully studied the issues before them.

He is very supportive of the local teamwork he sees & the efforts toward regionalism. He related how the Youngsville Parkway was originally in the Capital Outlay Bill, but got stripped out. So Youngsville's Mayor Wilson Viator, and the City Engineer Raymond Reaux wanted to meet with Senator Michot. They set up the meeting, and then got a call from Kam Movassaghi, former Louisiana Secretary of Transportation. Movassaghi explained that the road ran through School Board property. Suddenly there was State, Parish, Local, and LEDA support, and they got $5 million for the project. He felt that this sort of cooperation is hard to stop.

He talked about Kaliste Saloom, which is heavily used by constituents from both Representative Trahan's and his own District. Mayor-President Durel has made that road a priority. A group of citizens came in and talked about taking over the road from the state, fund it in a cooperative effort, to get the project taken care of.

Cortez finished by noting that "engaged in the process" is a phrase he heard regularly. The process is ongoing, he explained. An elected official can be for a Bill, but it gets changed, and he or she is now against it. There are a lot of people involved in the Legislative Process, so those kinds of changes are going to happen.