Louisiana State Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, said Monday morning that he wants to cut millions in state tax dollars, exemptions and credits allocated to the New Orleans Saints, the NFL and any of those groups' associated facilities that receive funding.
Havard's announcement comes a day after a group of Saints players participated in a protest during Sunday's national anthem before their game against the Panthers. Protests were the focus around the NFL on Sunday as players chose different methods to demonstrate after controversial comments from President Trump late last week.
"The very reason (the Saints) have the privilege and opportunity to play professional football while being paid millions is because someone in uniform died protecting their right to do so," Havard said. "It is a disgrace to the men and woman of this nation and state who have sacrificed so much."
Havard's statement didn't specify the amount of state money that he proposed be diverted from the Saints the NFL. According to a 2015 Forbes story, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was "set to rake in an estimated $392 million from state subsidies through 2025."
The report said during the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lease "the state will pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million in bonuses for bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks. Benson will get another $40 million from private rent payments to a tower he bought as part of the deal."
The lease expires in 2025.
"Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy," Havard said. "Our free society made possible by our fighting men and women has made available free education, free lunch, housing and free healthcare and is now be considered socially unjust," Havard said. "It is time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds. I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate the money."
Havard made national headlines in May of 2016 when the legislature debated a bill to raise the age of dancers at strip clubs from 18 to 21. The bill was intended to help prevent human trafficking that happens at night clubs.
Havard is the chairman of the state House's transportation committee.
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