Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona, told a constituent in an email he "could care less" about her opinion on the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act, which was transferred to the House this week. File Photo/Imani Khayyam
A freshman legislator who won his seat with the help of the banking and real-estate industries, as well as Koch Industries and Empower Mississippi, this week told a concerned citizen that he "could care less" about her concerns about budget cuts and suggested that she should leave Mississippi.
Gulfport resident Becky Guidry this week emailed all members of the Mississippi House of Representatives in order to express her concern over the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act, which the Senate passed earlier this week. The bill has yet to be referred to a specific House committee, but Guidry wrote in order to urge lawmakers to vote "no" on the Act in the event that it reaches the House for a full vote.
Guidry wrote in her email that she thinks the act is irresponsible when "revenue projections are already down, budgets for various services are being cut across the board and funding for public education and other critical services such as child care, foster care and roads/bridges are underfunded."
Last week, senators against the bill said it could lead to a 10-percent cut in the general fund by the time all the tax cuts in the bill are phased in. Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona, who is not Guidry's representative, decided to respond. He wrote:
"Mrs. Guidry, I normally don't return emails that do not request a response, but I found yours so intriguing I simply felt led to respond. I see you are not a native to the Great State of Mississippi nor do you and I have similar political views. [Editor's note: Guidry's Facebook page says she is from Chicago, Ill.] The people of our Great State overwhelmingly share my same or similar views on Government responsibility. I appreciate you going to the trouble to share yours with me, but quite frankly, and with all due respect, I could care less. I would, however, recommend that there are a rather large number of like minded citizens in Illinois that would love to see you return. With warmest personal regards, Karl Oliver"
Guidry posted both her email and Oliver's response in a screenshot on Twitter with the text "Mom Wife Taxpayer Voter. This is my home & I care about my family's future here. Who else shares my views? #msleg"
Oliver is a freshman representative who was able to raise in excess of $25,000 in the 2015 election cycle, campaign-finance records show. He raised less than his Democratic opponent in November's election race, Ken Strachan, who raised more than $38,000. Oliver won the race with 56 percent of the vote and replaced veteran lawmaker and Republican Rep. Bobby Howell, who served in the House for 24 years.
Empower PAC, the political arm of Empower Mississippi, a school-choice advocacy organization that fought Initiative 42 last year, donated $3,500 to Oliver's campaign. The Mississippi Association of Realtors gave Oliver $2,500, 2015 campaign finance records show. Koch Industries and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association also donated to his campaign.
The manufacturers association supported the study used in the Senate to support the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act. The manufacturing industry has the most to gain from eliminating the corporate franchise tax, which is one of the taxes addressed in the bill Guidry's email was about. The state's manufacturing industry must pay more than $56,000 in franchise taxes to the state, the study says.
The Taxpayer Pay Raise Act passed to the House this week, when the motion to reconsider was tabled. It passed the Senate by a vote of 38-10, with several Democrats opposing its passage.
Read more legislative coverage at jacksonfreepress.com/msleg and more information about how much lawmakers receive from lobbyists at jfp.ms/lobbyists.