Friday, 23 October 2015 09:49
Louisiana gubernatorial candidates just waving at Louisiana budget, fiscal debt future
Written by 

cash-floatby Jim Brown

In the numerous gubernatorial debates that have taken place over the past year, candidates have been asked time and time again what they will do about the massive fiscal debt that continues to grow.  How will they fill the financial hole that some say will approach two billion dollars in the coming year? 


The answers put forth by all the candidates is generally the same. First, no new taxes because we have a spending problem.  Second, call a special session of the legislature the day they take office. The same clichés over and over again.  No specifics.  We skeptics keep asking, “Where’s the beef.”  The pat answer of “just trust us cause we can work this out,” has gone stale.  Voters hear the same banalities year after year.

There have been a number of stopgap solutions suggested to stop the fiscal dike from overflowing in mounting debt.  Cap the movie tax credits, eliminate the homestead exemption, put a cap on the educational TOPS program, curtail the industrial tax exemptions, eliminate the state sales tax holidays, get rid of a the numerous special tax breaks that seem to be widespread for everyone but you and me, wipe out the numerous annual grants to non-profits; the list goes on and on.

The proposals right now seem to be heading towards a special session of the legislature reviewing item by item what funding should be cut or eliminated.  Can you imagine the herd of lobbyists camping out at the state capitol pleading for their special funding or exemption from taxes to be left alone?

Why not just go back to square one?  The legislature, without any direction from the new governor, could go into a special session, either with the governor’s support or on their own, and re-build a financial plan for taxing and spending from scratch.  Why have a knock down drag out fight over what funding to cut or what exemption to preserve. Just let the legislature do its job with a clean slate and no “locked in” spending requirements.

Back in 1973, I was an elected delegate to the constitutional convention.  I was co-chairman, along with former governor Buddy Roemer, of the revenue and finance committee of the convention.  After months of discussion, we directed that the legislature take on the constitutional responsibility of determining year in and year out just how the state funds were to be spent.  No special exemptions.  No advantages or money protection for any one group.

Article 7 (Revenue and finance) of the new constitution specifically spelled out that spending priories were to be determined by the legislature.  But little by little, the legislature bowed to the whims of special interest groups and allowed constitutional amendments that limited the legislature’s ability to prioritize spending.  The state was in better financial shape when the voters passed these amendments, and no one had the foresight to see the financial crisis that would happen in years to come.

As political watchdog C. B. Forgotston has suggested, the legislature could come into a special session on day one of taking office, and deal just with Article 7 of the constitution.  Eliminate all dedicated funding for any special interest.  Remember, that’s how it was in 1973.  It would take just one constitutional amendment to go to be considered by the voters next year.

One of the most prosperous times in Louisiana’s history was just after our present constitution was adopted and before it was weighted down was so many special interest dedications.  In 1974 and in the early years following, it was a flourishing time for the state economically. Yes, energy was an important economic boom.  But the new constitution played a significant role in the state’s growing economy.

If a new Article 7 was adopted, then the legislature would have fresh authority to set priorities for the state’s future.  If such an amendment would fail, then a majority of voters would have made the decision that Louisiana will continue to fester at the bottom.  It will take a courageous legislature, a committed new governor, and a voting public that is tired of the status quo.  But the clock is running.



Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.  

Login to post comments
  • Cat Fights on the Hot Cement Confederate New Orleans statues
  • Ex-Saints, Bears, Bills, NFL Exec, Jim W. Miller discusses NFL Draft tomorrow
  • Trump's new plan; Curtains on tax returns release; 40% say Trump-Russia; Probing Obama admin
  • Watch Louisiana Governor Edwards talk about CAT Tax failure

catRarely, have I seen few issues that have generated as much raw heat, tension, and passion than the Confederate monuments controversy. 

Just as existed during the real civil war, where brothers battled brothers, social media is the battleground, particularly Facebook, pitting friend against friend.

On one side of the tense divide, there are those who are protecting the New Orleans civil war era monuments.  Burnt in effigy, forever, is the symbol of Mayor Mitch Landrieu for up-ending what the monument protectors consider to be the loving civil society of New Orleans.

Lately, events have turned somewhat militaristic.

Some protectors of the Confederate monuments have been staying vigilant, in person and online, even surveilling during the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the next Mayor Landrieu attack. On Sunday morning, with protections of snipers, masked workers and a dumbstruck audience, the worst of all of the monuments was cut and carried., the Liberty Monument. 

Read More

miller nfl live2 5It’s D-Day or Draft Day tomorrow in the NFL.

More specifically, Thursday represents the first day of the NFL draft 2017.

Read More


trump curtainsThe major President Trump news of the day focuses upon taxes, not only the tax cuts he is proposing but his own taxes, which he obviously, refuses to unveil.


Read More

edwards play money 1

At a press conference today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the CAT Tax did not pass the House Ways and Means Committee.  The Governor, in addressing the media said that "the fate of that bill was decided long before we unveiled it".

Read More


Sen. Appel talks budget, economy


Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1