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Louisiana legislature, Jindal apply band-aid fix to budgetary cancerous wound
  // Monday, 15 June 2015 11:33 //

bandaidOfficially, the Louisiana budget was balanced with not a second to spare. On Thursday of last week, as the clock ticked, the Louisiana legislature, after a two-month session, finalized the state budget with its $1.6 billion shortfall by raising fees, taxes and by making cuts. The problem, however, appears to be that the fix was merely short-term and the budget solution which begins July 1 2015 might even last until Gov. Bobby Jindal serves his last day in office, mid-January 2016.

 After the legislative smoke cleared, on Friday, Bayoubuzz hosted a Google hangout with former statewide elected official Jim Brown, SMOR  pollster Bernie Pinsonat, Monroe News Star political reporter Greg Hilburn and attorney-publisher Stephen Sabludowsky.  Below is part I of the multi-part series focused upon the legislative session developments, its implications for the future and the role (or lack of one during the session) of Governor Jindal.

Today’s segment focuses upon the band-aid applied to the Louisiana’s budget cancerous-wound:

Thank you so much really appreciated it. Bernie go ahead please

Pinsonat:  The session, everything about the session was a backdrop a billion six ($1.6B) deficit that had been--we have been aware of for 5, 6, 7 months.  And the backdrop was the public in the survey I did in December, basically talking about the continuing deficits and the lack of money but the public did not want to hear about it, they were tuned out, we asked them about personal income tax, property tax, sales tax--they didn't want to fund it. They did not want to pay anymore to fund the deficit. So most legislators heard that from back home, polls showed it rather ran the survey, so they came in and started looking at as Jindal called it, corporate welfare. And then they start to go after exemptions. And of course, that was not enough and they added one penny tax to businesses on utilities, so the backdrop was always bad for the legislature because the public isn't buying that they should be paying more personal taxes, so the legislature went after the areas in which they would get the least resistance, on a day-to-day basis, so they went after all these exemptions--solar, inventory tax credits, movie industry and of course the utility tax, but, so that's where they were, that's where this session ended with their raising taxes primarily on businesses. The legislators were saying wait wait we didn't raise your taxes we just reduce exemptions. But there was a tax in there. The tax on utility tax. So that dominated the session, everything else was of little or no consequences. There was the usual legislation, with social issues, or cleaning up stuff,  or changing this--but the entire session was about how to fix a $1.6 billion deficit and literally, most of it is quick fixes that the next governor will still have to deal with. So Jim's correct that day today was all about trying to find revenue of which they eventually did but as we all know it was all complicated by Jindal's insistence that no new net taxes were collected. So, it was a weird background but I'd say this much--the next governor and everything the legislature did ignored one important fact-- with a $1.6 billion deficit, Louisiana voters had no interest in paying another dime. So how are you going to fix anything. The legislature may have come up with the money this time but Louisiana can't go much further and they can't fund higher Ed or healthcare or anything else if the public is not willing to pay for it. So to me, what came out of the session was that in looking at the surveys and listening to the average person, they don't want to fund government in Louisiana, they don't want to pay another dime. The legislature got away with exemptions and taking money from business but the underlying problem that is still there is that there is nobody, the majority of the people in Louisiana and not want to pay one more dime out of their pockets to fund state government. So, it's a temporary fix, but the real problem is still there. And the people don't like or trust, don't believe, think the money is being wasted, you name it--they'll come up with an excuse why they don't want to pay additional taxes out of their pocket to fix anything or even to pay for higher education

Sabludowsky: Jim, go ahead  Louisiana legislature applies band-aid fix to budgetary cancerous wound Louisiana legislature applies band-aid fix to budgetary cancerous wound

Jim Brown: Well I think that Bernie is right on the money. And I think the listeners out there and the individual taxpayers, and he poles it and he is very accurate what is saying don't want to pay any more money, you have to put it into focus and say you and I--the family, you trying to pay your bills, your mortgages on your home, and can't really borrow any money, but you have a great amount of additional debt, and so what you do? You've got to use what you have, you've got to work with what you have.  And to me, the legislature as well as the governor, were highly irresponsible in not using what they had. You take the Department of Economic Development--we ought to start calling that the Louisiana welfare office, the give out's the billions and billions of dollars given out and yet we don't monitor that money, we don't even know what would getting in return. You take the non-profits, with got nonprofits galore in the state, with serious questions as to how that money is being spent, not being audited properly, many non-profits shouldn't be getting that kind of money. We don't get the best bang for the buck in higher education, a report came out last week like schools like University of New Orleans, Southern down in New Orleans, 11% graduation rate at the six years. Steve that campus should be shut down. But the legislature doesn't want to do this they want to stick their fingers in the dike, pass it by the governor and say is going to be someone's problem next year. Well as Bernie articulately said, is going to be a massive problem next year, these business taxes they put on this year, many of them expire, some after one year all at the three years. So we haven't balance the budget, what this legislature, this Republican conservative legislature and this Republican conservative governor is going to go down in history, as raising more taxes anytime in history of the state number one, and number two, loosen up the reins on marijuana. That's going to be the heart, the focus of what they will be remembered for. It's almost on the verge of being malfeasance in office and there ought to be a pretty good justification for voting out anybody, who's in office right now.. So on the short view, Bernie's got it right. On the long view, where's the leadership going to say, hey, with got to live within our means. The only voice I've heard even halfway is treasurer John Kennedy and he's been ignored by the legislature as well as the governor

Sabludowsky: Okay we got Greg Hilburn, who wrote the NewsStar.  He's calling in by phone of course.  Good morning Greg.

Hilburn: Good morning Stephen.

Sabludowsky: Now you were there at the scene of the crime, and you're still there today

Hilburn: Yes I'm still here

Sabludowsky: . So why don't you if you don't mind.  Great thank you.  

Why don't you give us an idea as to what happened from your perspective.  You were there yesterday, go ahead,,

Hilburn: Yes I'm still here

Sabludowsky: . So why don't you if you don't mind.  Great thank you.  

Why don't you give us an idea as to what happened from your perspective.  You were there yesterday, go ahead,,

Hilburn: Well, in the end, as I suspected, the legislature blinked, the house linked, and voted for the SAVE the measure, which you guys, I am sure have already talked about-- what they considered what could be damaging cuts to higher ed, healthcare, public healthcare.  I've talked to the LSU president yesterday, all of the higher Ed officials all of the brass were there to encourage these lawmakers to vote on SAVE,--so this cobbled-together budget could be passed out and so they could be funded for at least a year, or maybe less. To get to the next corner, to get the canned to the next corner and it was frantic.

I've covered the legislature on an and off a long time, the end of the legislature yesterday was the most frenzied and confused in the house that I remember seeing at the end.  It was wild.

Sabludowsky: Let me make a comment about that because I was watching online, It seemed to me, it seemed to me, that it was a real power play, in other words, here you had two guys in the house that were retiring. One, the speaker and then of course, you had the representative from down here in New Orleans. And that took an hour. My God, you had an hour at the very time--and Gov. Jindal comes in-- during those moments takes an hour away from whatever he's doing--just to be there--just the lobby. During the farewell speeches, yeah, yeah, you had Jeff Arnold and he's retiring and he's there's and he's done a great job, and notto take anything away from Jeff Arnold or the speaker--but my God how the world we have all these bills still yet needing to be discussed. There is no report that has been disseminated to the rest of the legislature and there's no debate.

 

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Metairie, Louisiana

Website: www.bayoubuzz.com

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