Vic Stelly

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Victor Theodore "Vic" Stelly
Member of Louisiana Board of Regents for Higher Education
Incumbent
Assumed office
2007
Louisiana House of Representatives District 35 (Calcasieu Parish)
In office
1988–2004
Preceded by Margaret Welsh Lowenthal
Succeeded by Brett Geymann
Calcasieu Parish School Board member
In office
1983–1987
Personal details
Born (1941-01-11) January 11, 1941 (age 73)
Place of birth missing
Political party Republican-turned-Independent
Spouse(s) Terry Bass Stelly
Children Three children

including Victor Todd Stelly

Residence Lake Charles, Louisiana
Alma mater Northwestern State University

Louisiana State University
McNeese State University

Occupation Businessman; former Educator
Religion Roman Catholic
(1) Stelly became well-known statewide near the end of his tenure in the Louisiana House of Representatives by virtue of his controversial Stelly Plan, which raised Louisiana state income taxes but reduced sales taxes on food and utilities. The income tax increases under the program were repealed in 2008 and implemented in 2009.

(2) Stelly's tax-swap plan had been intended to move Louisiana in the direction of financing state government through income taxes, rather than sales taxes on necessities.

(3) Stelly was a legislative advocate of Sam Houston Jones State Park in Moss Bluff outside Lake Charles. The park is named for Louisiana Governor Sam Houston Jones, a Lake Charles lawyer who served in the state's highest office from 1940-1944.

Victor Theodore Stelly, known as Vic Stelly (born January 11, 1941), is a retired businessman from Lake Charles, Louisiana, a former member of the Louisiana Board of Regents for Higher Education,[1] and from 1988-2004 a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 35 in Calcasieu Parish in the southwestern corner of his state.[2] He is best known for the since repealed Stelly Plan tax-shifting amendment.

Early years, education, family[edit]

Stelly was educated at Zachary High School in Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish.[3] In 1962, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. In 1965, he obtained a Master of Education degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. From 1962-1974, he taught and coached at Redemptorist and Broadmoor High School high schools in Baton Rouge and at McNeese State University in Lake Charles.[1] Thereafter, he became an insurance and real estate agent in Moss Bluff north of Lake Charles. He was later an administrator at McNeese, where he also took postgraduate courses.[4] He is the past president of the McNeese 100 Club. From 1983-1987, Stelly served on the Calcasieu Parish School Board. He is Roman Catholic. Stelly is married to the former Terry Bass (born ca. 1940), and the couple has three children, including Victor Todd Stelly (born c. 1963).[3]

Legislative career[edit]

His Stelly Plan, a 2002 constitutional amendment increased state income taxes with a simultaneous reduction in otherwise "temporary" state sales taxes on food and utilities.[4] Though the Stelly Plan also referred to "drugs", Louisiana does not tax prescription drugs but does fully tax over-the-counter products.

Thereafter, many voters rebelled against the plan, claimed that they had been deceived, and many legislative candidates ran successfully in 2007 on a platform to repeal it. For many middle-class taxpayers, the additional amount paid in income taxes exceeded the sales tax "savings". The legislature voted in 2008 to eliminate the income tax increases, a potential loss of $380 million to the state treasury.[5] The actual rollback of the income tax increases began early in 2009.[6]

In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 1987, Stelly ran for representative against two Democrats, the freshman incumbent, Margaret Welsh Lowenthal, and Ken Brown. Stelly led in the first round of balloting, 6,717 (42.7 percent), and went into the official general election with Lowenthal, who trailed with 5,802 (36.9 percent). Brown received 3,226 votes (a critical 20.5 percent).[7] In the general election Stelly defeated Lowenthal, 5,509 (55.9 percent) to 4,348 (44.1 percent).[8]

In the 1991 primary, Stelly defeated Democrat Newton Blanchard "Sonny" Powell, Jr., a Calcasieu Parish deputy sheriff for public relations, 8,4890 (63.1 percent) to 4,966 (36.9 percent).[9] Powell (born March 1, 1935) subsequently retired to his native Ashland in northern Natchitoches Parish. He is the older of two sons of N. B. Powell, Sr. (1904–1971), and the former Marie Weaver (1907–2001), who was a long-term elementary school teacher at the defunct Ashland High School.[10]

Stelly was unopposed in the 1995 and 1999 primaries but did not seek a fifth term in 2003. He was succeeded by Republican Brett Frank Geymann, who with nearly 54 percent of the vote defeated two Democratic candidates.[11]

Stelly later left the Republican Party remains re-registered as an Independent or "No Party" as permitted under Louisiana law.

Later years[edit]

In 2003, as his legislative career wound down, Stelly was "roasted" by the Moss Bluff Civic Club and Veterans of Foreign Wars as a fund raiser to install a monument to former Governor Sam Houston Jones at the Jones State Park in Moss Bluff. Though a native of Beauregard Parish, Jones practiced law for many years in Lake Charles. Stelly's roasters included his legislative colleagues, State Senator Willie Mount (female) and Representative Randy Roach, both Democrats who are no longer legislators.[4]

In recent years, recipients of Stelly's personal campaign contributions have included former State Senator Robert Barham of Oak Ridge, who ran as a Republican in 2002 for Louisiana's 5th congressional district seat, former state Senator Willie Mount, who ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana's 7th congressional district, and current Republican U.S. Representative Charles Boustany of Lafayette, who defeated Mount in 2004. Stelly contributed in 2008 to John N. Kennedy, the Republican state treasurer who failed in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of New Orleans.[12]

In 2006, Stelly was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, a relatively rare honor for a political figure whose career has been confined to the state House of Representatives. In addition to the Stelly Plan, the museum exhibit notes that Stelly declined to enroll himself in the legislative retirement and health insurance plans. He is depicted as an "intelligent, reasonable and accessible legislator who was active in efforts to bring major structural changes to much of the state government [and] strongly supported tightening ethics laws for public officials ..."[13]

Early in 2007, Democratic Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco named Stelly to the Board of Regents, a body which consists of both elected and appointed members. He held the 7th Congressional District seat on the board.[14] In June 2011, Stelly resigned from the Board of Regents with six months remaining in his term. In an email to his fellow Regents, Stelly said that repeated budget cuts to universities had left him too disillusioned to remain in the position: "I can't see how being frustrated and negative for six more months is to anyone's benefit."[15]

Two weeks after his resignation from the regents, Stelly spoke before the Press Club of Baton Rouge. He argued that Louisiana could control its budget were it to halt many tax exemptions that benefit corporations and individuals: "We’re giving away the store."[16] Before the Press Club, Stelly explained that he grew discouraged with higher education funding cuts and back-to-back tuition hikes since 2008. He described the first five years in office of Republican Governor Bobby Jindal as "very self serving."[16]

Stelly is a director of Jeff Davis Bank in Jennings; the bank vice president is his former legislative colleague, Gerald Theunissen. Stelly is also a member of the interest group, Council for a Better Louisiana.[1]

Stelly's public papers are at the Lether Frazar Memorial Library at NcNeese State University.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Board of Regents: Victor T. Stelly". regents.la.gov. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2008". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "House District 35", Louisiana Encyclopedia (1999)
  4. ^ a b c d "The Vic Stelly Papers". library.mcneese.edu. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ ""House votes to roll back Stelly Plan taxes", June 4, 2008". nola.com. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Stelly Plan action: Bad timing". Lafayette Daily Advertiser, January 5, 2009. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 24, 1987". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 26, 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Louisiana election returns, November 21, 1987". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 26, 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Primar election returns, October 19, 1991
  10. ^ M. Yvonne Coffey, Hathorn Cemetery, Ashland, Louisiana, 2003, pp. 46-47
  11. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Legislative Election Returns, October 4, 2003
  12. ^ "Vic Stelly from Zip Code 70611". watchdog.net. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  13. ^ ""Victor "Vic" Stelly"". lapoliticalmuseum.com. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Vic Stelly: ZoomInfo". zoominfo.com. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Former state lawmaker leaves higher education board". Shreveport Times. Retrieved June 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Michelle Millhollon, "Stelly: Tax deals cost La.: Former representative criticizes Jindal"". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved July 3, 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Margaret Welsh Lowenthal
Louisiana State Representative from District 35 (Calcasieu Parish)

Victor Theodore "Vic" Stelly
1988–2004

Succeeded by
Brett Frank Geymann