BRADENTON, Fla. – As Louisiana faces losing more than a $1 billion in revenues at the end of this fiscal year, a new state treasurer took office promising to oppose new taxes.
John Schroder, a conservative Republican from St. Tammany Parish, won a Nov. 18 runoff election for treasury’s top position with 56% of the vote. He was sworn into office Tuesday night.
“It's time for state government to live within its means,” Schroder tweeted Nov 13.
Schroder resigned his seat in the House to complete the remaining two years of now U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s term.
After Kennedy resigned in January, Ron Henson served as interim treasurer until the election. Henson will return to his former position as first assistant state treasurer.
As treasurer, Schroder said in his biography, he will “continue expressing his opposition to increasing taxes on Louisiana taxpayers, pushing for a streamlined budgeting process, and for overhauling the entire tax system for Louisiana.”
The treasurer's office does not set tax rates in Louisiana.
Schroder will become chairman of the State Bond Commission. His first meeting will be Dec. 14. He will also oversee the state’s $5.7 billion investment portfolios.
Schroder was first elected to the state House in 2007, the same year former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal was elected to the first of his two terms, and became a founder of the House Fiscal Budget Hawks.
The Budget Hawks, his bio said, are a group of legislators that “committed to end wasteful government spending, balance the budget, and successfully pass legislation to end the practice of using one-time money on recurring expenses.”
On his campaign-for-treasurer website, Schroder said, “Louisiana has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. We are structurally broken.”
“When I began my first term as a state legislator eight years ago, I quickly recognized our state government had fundamental issues with our budget and spending practices,” he said. “I have repeatedly pointed to these problems over the years to bring them to light.”
Schroder said the budget process is not rocket science, and that “government must understand you cannot spend more revenue than you take in.”
A U.S. Army veteran, Schroder is co-owner of a real estate company and a residential developer. He is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University.
Louisiana is currently approaching a budget crisis as temporary revenue raising measures, including a 1-cent sales tax increase, expire at the end of this fiscal year.
Fitch Ratings said Louisiana is one of “five states where developments in 2018 have the potential to affect credit quality,” in a 2018 Outlook report for U.S. States Wednesday.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and the GOP-led Legislature will need to address the budget gap, which is more than 11% of expenditures for fiscal 2019, Fitch said, adding that so far Edwards’ proposals to extend the revenue measures or replace them with other solutions have not received significant legislative support.
“Given the softness in natural resource markets, a key driver of the state’s revenue sources, and the already extensive expenditure reductions implemented by the state as it tackled multiple years of budget gaps, Fitch anticipates a contentious 2018 legislative session,” Fitch said.
Louisiana’s three-month regular session begins March 12.