Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the 2019 legislative season was the lack of extraordinary sessions. For the first year since the governor and current legislators were elected in 2015, we had no special session. Whether the reason was fatigue or election politics, our leaders in the Capitol determined that seven special sessions over the previous three years was enough. One major factor - and the most important characteristic of this session - was the existence of a more stable budget outlook based on a sales tax revenue stream established last year after much political wrangling. The 2019 session was the least contentious fiscal debate since the post-Katrina era. There were no mid-year budget cuts to adjust around, no drawdowns on the state rainy day fund and no obvious short-term gimmicks to prop the budget. The main theme was which programs to expand, not which to cut.
If you are Businessman Eddie Rispone or Congressman Ralph Abraham (one of the two Republican candidates) intending to unseat Governor John Bel Edwards for the rights to the state capitol’s 4th floor, you have some heavy lifting to do.
And, if you are running for political office this year or working on a political campaign, reading the just-released 2019 Louisiana Survey, a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs of LSU, is a must-do.
Today, Gov. Edwards announced Chip Kline as the new executive assistant for coastal activities and board chair of the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority (CPRA).
“We have reached a critical moment to address coastal restoration and hurricane protection in our state in a way in which we have never done before,” said Edwards. “In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, the CPRA must have a leader who recognizes the severity of the crisis we face, has a deep knowledge and understanding of the many complex issues that must be worked daily, and has a vision for our state. For the last 10 years, Chip has worked tirelessly on behalf of our working coast, and I have full confidence he is committed to accomplishing our goals vital for us to have a coast that we can continue to be proud of.”
by Tom Aswell
Republican members of the Louisiana Legislature are pretty smug about their ability to block any proposed legislation or budget put forward by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Witness the antics of Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) as he danced to puppeteer/House Speaker Taylor Barras (R-New Iberia) in rejecting the findings of the Revenue Estimating Conference, effectively killing any chance Edwards had of implementing badly needed pay raises for Louisiana’s public school teachers.
But do Henry and Barras, members in good standing of the “Caucus of No,” give a damn about teachers or, for that matter, the state as a whole?
Good news for the State of Louisiana and politically, for Governor John Bel Edwards and others in the legislature.
One of the remnants from the Jindal administration is now history.
Finally, after three special sessions and a regular one, it's time to relax, do the things that hard-working legislators (and governors) long to do after a long grueling hard-fought battle over the budget--pick up the pieces of one's life and, if at all possible, spend quality time with family, check out those hires burning at the office and hopefully take a moment of leisure.
The fiscal cliff, that seemingly insurmountable object in front of every legislative session since Bobby Jindal took his shot at taming the budget, is fixed. Yes, fixed. At least, on paper and hopefully, in reality, until perhaps, the next mid-decade.
The Louisiana legislators and governor, who have spent almost every day in session since mid-February of this year, have settled upon a budget deal that reduces the sales tax from five cents to 4.45 cents. Today, The Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges, who has been there with the legislators as each tick has tocked on the capitol clock, took a few moments to discuss with me--the session and the budget agreement. The interview occured via Facebook and Twitter Live.
Below is the video transcript of the relevant portions of the interview with Bridges, who will also soon post a "behind the budget deal scene" article for The Advocate.
According to a tweet by Times Picayune capitol bureau reporter Julia O'Donoghue, who knows, there might be some type of compromise in the legislature during the special session. The reporter indicated today that the "Talk is that the new sales tax rate that they will be trying to pass in the House is a 4.45 sales tax rate. That's between the 4.4 sales tax rate the House GOP wanted and the 4.5 sales tax rate".
Is there some way that Louisiana can gets its budgetary house in order? What is the problem? Did it begin under current Governor John Bel Edwards? Is Medicaid the culprit? Can we reform higher ed?
On Tuesday, I discussed the budget with former State Representative Brett Geymann, a budget hawk, who was term-limited and who left the legislature after the 2015 election. Geymann believes that the state budget should be tied to the economy and we will publish his thoughts on this tomorrow, as we went more into detail on that issue in the latter part of the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Live discussion.
Respectful and refreshing.
Those are the words that came to my mind after discussing the Louisiana budget issues with former conservative Republican House of Representative Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, this morning via Bayoubuzz’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Live.