Maness, a retired United States Air Force colonel and candidate for US Senate and for the Louisiana House of Representatives, is a strong conservative with Tea Party credentials and support with a large online media following. He is a Republican. The Governor is a Democrat. The notion that any member of either party would frame respect for the political potential of a member of the opposing party in “hero” terms, is somewhat unusual.
But Maness sees the budget crises, Louisiana is in once again, as a political opportunity, not only for the state but for Edwards; But, only if the governor gets it right.
Maness made these comments in the initial part of our online video conversation. Below is the transcript of that segment of the discussion. Also below is the video of the entire Friday morning program.
If you want to share your thoughts on this matter, connect with Rob Maness and the conversation that was held live during the filming.
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Here is Rob Maness’s response to my opening question for a legislative session over for the first week of the special session dealing with fiscal budget hole of roughly $994 million dollars:
MANESS: In a nutshell, Stephen looks like more of the same so far, but you know, I saw some indication because the last night it looks like Taylor Barras, the Speaker of the House and the leadership of the black caucus and the governor all met late yesterday and they all came out of the meeting which has happened before, so you have to take it for what it's worth, sounding very positive and you know the black caucus is insisting on some tax bills and House Republicans have been trouble getting their own caucus to come together on what they want to do on the tax bills and also Medicaid restriction bills, so apparantly.
SABLUDOWSKY: Okay, so what is your hope for the the legislature, I mean obviously we have I think a 994 million dollar shortfall because of the sales tax-- so if everything went the way you wanted-- it if you could dictate to the governor and to the legislature both Republicans and Democrats, what would it look like, what would the budget look like?
MANESS: Well, I if I were the governor, he's got an opportunity, the governor got a good opportunity to do something different and the thing that he could do differently is hold the line on spending and try to at least hold spending flat. Now if he does that then he's got to replace that revenue from the extra penny sales tax that's going to expire in June that the Republican leadership promised their voters and their supporters in the House and the Senate that they would not extend that extra penny sales tax and you know it's put us as a state surrounded by states that have lower sales tax and also as I state with the highest sales tax rate in the entire country. And on top of that, we've got a personal income tax and complicating factor with the personal income taxes apparently there's an automatic trigger unless the legislature and the governor take action that the federal tax cuts that everybody was going to get as a windfall this year can automatically trigger personal income tax increases unless actions taken by the governor. And from what I'm hearing from citizens around the state and I've had multiple phone calls and voicemails and text this week even though people knew I was out on the road on vacation with my family saying hey you know if you're talking about this please talk about this income tax issue, with the federal income tax triggering at state income tax increase, unless the legislature does something. So if the governor takes action and holds spending flat and works with the Republicans on what are those things that could be cut, because there are cuts still out there, everybody knows that it, there's fraud in the Medicaid system, we all know that, there are things that we can do to reduce state spending but for now it needs to hold it flat and figure out how he can work with the Republicans to find budget cuts that we can all agree on and if he could do that, if he could do that, he'd be a hero. He would be a hero and get reelected probably with the same numbers he had the first time if he doesn't cause that sales tax to get extended and he does something to let the state tax windfall from the reductions that we already had. By just holding spending and then working with the Republicans in a regular session to find and, if need be another special session this summer, and I would expect that at this point that there's going to be a June session so I'll see you there-- have a cup of coffee when that happens.
But do that, work together, but it takes the governor's leadership to reach out to the Republicans because you know Barras and John Alario are trying to herd cats. I mean it's you got more than one person you've got to convince and more than one set of ideologies, Republicans don't all share the same exact ideology as you know, there are conservatives you have moderates, yes some even with even slightly liberal in the Republican Party, so the governor's gonna have to exercise the leadership--but he has an opportunity. He really does have an opportunity as long as he can hold the line on that sales tax, figure out how to fix this issue with the personal income tax, and get to the point where we can actually find things that can be cut from the budget--because here's the problem the governor faces-- and the Democrats in general and it's a problem that Bobby Jindal faced and the Republicans are are facing it now due to the smoke and mirror policies that we saw during the Jindal administration and that is-- that we have a budget, that our ability to raise revenue is not consistent with and it's not coherent, so we've got to figure out how to get state spending back under control so that matches our revenue generating capability.
MANESS: Nnow that increases on a consistent and steady basis sometime in the future, then we could go back and look at things that people want to add but at this point we just don't have that ability and that's been the problem that's all we've had--I think the governor said I called you the special session five times now, I hope that this time it'll be it'll work and we won't have to do it again. But he will have to do it again if he doesn't do those things. And it's his leadership that really is the key to this. He has the ability to be the Nixon goes to China kind of guy, if he would step up--if he will step up to the plate and take the reins.