• Swamp Watch

When "Self-Generated Revenue" Is Actually "Tax Dollars"

The Horticulture Commission and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain repeatedly claim to be funded by "self-generated revenue". But, records reveal its mostly tax dollars.

During this year's legislative session, advocates of Louisiana's unique florist license, including members of the Horticulture Commission which regulates the state's florists, mobilized to kill SB 483 by Senator Stewart Cathey to allow universal recognition of occupational licenses in Louisiana.

Throughout that process, horticulturists, florists, and their advocated repeatedly warned legislators of the dangers of allowing qualified workers from other states to come to Louisiana and practice their craft.

Despite the wildness of their claims, perhaps the most incredulous was Commissioner Mike Strain's claim that the Horticulture Commission is funded entirely by self-generated revenue. During a hearing in the House Commerce Committee on Sen. Cathey's legislation, Commissioner Strain was questioned by Rep. Bryan Fontenot about the Horticulture Commissions' funding, and replied: "Most of the agency is self-funded...every license has a nominal fee and that's what runs the agency."

You can watch below:

Strain, as other advocates for keeping Louisiana's harsh restrictions on florists and other licensed occupations have done, claims that the Horticulture Commission is funded by so-called "self-generated revenue"- the fees they demand from individuals for the right to practice their trade legally in Louisiana.

Unlike many other boards and commissions in Louisiana, the Horticulture Commission does not report its funding and expenditures to the public using the Division of Administration's LaTrac System.

We reached out to the Department of Agriculture to request a break-down of the Commission's revenue and expenditures and were shocked at the information they provided: of the $1,790,459 the Horticulture Commission brought in during Fiscal Year 2021, only $9,236 was attributed to "fees and self-generated revenue"- less than .5% of the Commission's revenue! Federal funds, in other words your tax dollars, accounted for 1o times more of the Commission's revenue, at $92,558 in FY21. The year before, taxpayers chipped in over $230,000 to the Horticulture Commission- with $0 reported from fees and self-generated revenue.

The Department of Agriculture and Forestry provided the following full break-down of the Horticulture Commission's Revenue and Expenditures:

Like other licensing Boards and Commissions, the Horticulture Commission's largest expense by far is overhead- which may explain why any efforts to make it easier for Louisiana's to earn a living are met with such opposition. It's simply bad for the bureaucracy that regulates job seekers.

You can read more about Louisiana's job-killing licensing boards here.

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