Former Louisiana state Rep. Vic Stelly dies at age 79

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) – Victor “Vic” Stelly, a former Louisiana lawmaker who served 16 years in the state House and later as a member of Louisiana’s higher education policy board, has died. He was 79.

Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed Stelly’s death in a tweet Saturday. He did not say how or when Stelly died.

“Vic served dutifully,” Edwards tweeted of the former Lake Charles lawmaker.

As a state lawmaker, Stelly was known for a tax swap plan that bears his name.

Approved by lawmakers and voters in a 2002 constitutional change, the “Stelly Plan” eliminated sales taxes on groceries and residential utilities in exchange for increased income taxes on middle- and upper-income earners.

Many parts of the plan were later dismantled, but the controversial changes remained a heated topic among politicians and radio talk show hosts for years, as critics argued that it harmed Louisiana families and undercut Republican claims of fiscal conservatism.

Stelly served four terms in the state House beginning in 1988, before deciding not to run for a fifth term. The retired insurance agent was later appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents, which oversees public higher education spending and management. He resigned from the board in 2012, citing frustration with cuts to state funding for public colleges that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration had made.

Stelly was a Republican for most of his time in the Legislature, but switched to no party affiliation near the end of his tenure. He was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2006.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University in 1962 and his master’s from Louisiana State University in 1965. He was an assistant football coach at McNeese State University from 1970 through 1974.

Stelly is survived by his wife, Terry, and three children, according to KPLC-TV.

Former state representative and current Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay told The American Press that Stelly “gave his all in serving the public of Southwest Louisiana and the entirety of our state.”

“Vic was a fine gentleman and a true statesman,” he said. “He will always be remembered as a man of great integrity and conviction.”

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