By Robert Mann
The promise is simple. Candidates for public office and incumbents often sign the following pledge, as composed by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform:
In Louisiana, three statewide elected officials have signed the pledge: Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy. Several dozen other legislators have signed it, as well, including state Senate President John Alario (speaker Chuck Kleckley has not signed it).
This pledge is one reason why Louisiana’s colleges and universities may collapse this year. Without additional revenue, LSU and other schools will virtually cease to exist.
Despite this, Jindal will not violate his pledge. His oath to ATR is more important than his oath of office. He will allow Norquist to dictate which revenue bills violate the pledge and which don’t. Indeed, much of what the Legislature may pass in the coming legislative session to balance the state’s budget might fail because Jindal will almost certainly follow Norquist’s instructions and veto those bills.
But what about those running to replace Jindal? Will they tie their hands before they take office? Will they pledge to never raise tax, not even in the face of an emergency or natural disaster?
“I have no intention of signing it,” Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne told me by phone. “My loyalty is to the people of Louisiana.”
Ryan Cross, spokesperson for Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle’s campaign, told me that Angelle would not sign the pledge. State Rep. John Bel Edwards’ spokesperson, Mary Patricia Wray, said Edwards would refuse to sign the pledge.
David Vitter signed the pledge as a U.S. senator, but his campaign provided this statement to me on Wednesday afternoon: “I’ve made it crystal clear that, as Louisiana’s next governor, I’ll make Louisiana-based decisions that are best for us here, not ones based on what some Washington group dictates.”