Tuesday, 10 April 2018 12:00

Is a constitutional convention the way to fix Louisiana's fiscal problems?

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constitution laAs we know, Louisiana is, has been, and probably will be in a fiscal mess, year after year, until and unless we identify and then fix the problem. 

For the past ten years, and at times prior to the start of the Bobby Jindal administraton, the budget has been unbalanced until the magic, smoke and mirrors took over to create a false balanced budget, financed often with one-time money.

We know we cannot spend more than we take in. But the issue to consider, which is being discussed throughout the state, is not just what needs to be done, but, how do we even get to the point where we can discuss what needs to be fixed.  In particular, is it necessary to call a constitutional convention to carve out an ultimate solution, once and for all.

This was an issue Jim Brown and Bernie Pinsonat recently discussed during a Bayoubuzz Facebook Live event.  Brown was a delegate the last time a constitutional convention was held during the first Edwin Edwards administraton in the 1970's. He has had tremendous experience as a state Senator, the Secretary of the State and the Insurance Commissioner.  Bernie Pinsonat, has spent decades at the DC Capitol and state Capitol. Here is how they discussed the issue: 

Is a Louisiana Constitutional Convention the route to fix fiscal woes?

Bernie Pinsonat and Jim Brown talk Louisiana budget fix

 

PINSONAT: If you change the constitution. I'm not arguing which. I'm just saying that the system we have is broken.

SABLUDOWSKY: Ok. What's the best way to fix it, I guess is really the question?.

PINSONAT: Do legislators want to give up the authority to have their DA or their sheriff come byand all the judges come by and beg them for a raise.  Why do we do that? Why am I paying money at the state level for stuff in other parishes.

SABLUDOWSKY: What's the best vehicle My question is..

PINSONAT: Jim was a legislator and a statewide elected official and he's seen it and done at all related to being an elected official which you know he certainly was not one of the better ones because he was always. If you listen to Jim Brown he in and just vote on things, he knew what he was talking about. He always used his intellect to discuss government that's why he was so successful. When you think about what I just said but that's the way I think Louisiana is in trouble because we don't have the money to throw away at the state level. When what, when we don't have money. Being a governor is a miserable experience. We want to be governor because we control everything and when we have the money, they are the most powerful person  of the other 50 state. But now, it's a miserable job because we're broke.

SABLUDOWSKY: Ok so yes or no, you're in favor of a constitutional convention?

PINSONAT: I'm undecided right now.

OK Jim.

BROWN: Yeah I think at least a limited amount to the revenue section and I can't count what--Bernie is right. The legislature could do certain things. Let me give you an example--we passed, we dedicated highway funds in the Constitution which we shouldn't have done. We did it. We left it up to the legislature to set up the nuts and bolts. Well you know what they did? They allowed the state police retirement funds to come out of the road funds that are dedicated in the Constitution, that's crazy. So there's a number of ways the legislature could clean up the mess that past legislators have created and come up with a fair amount of money, shifting priorities, quite frankly. I think the legislature could put a firm stand against allowing these local projects to be state funded. You know we all love the Superdome. They're talking about I think another 200 million dollars to fix up the Superdome. No other state in America has financed something like a Superdome for their pro football teams, your basketball team. It's all done at a local level. They put a district together for four or five parishes but in Louis--Dallas Texas one of the finest stadiums in the country, Arlington Texas helped with bonds but it was financed locally.  So we could cut that out and make that be done locally within the legislative next.  I agree with Bernie, I still think we probably need the flexibility under the Constitution to do hold a convention or at least deal with the revenue section. Steve. The legislature in a couple of days could deal with the revenue section put it as a constitutional amendment on the ballot. You wouldn't have to have a full blown convention. Number of ways to skin the cat but right now until they do that like Bernie said until there's more dollars and more accountability then the--it's going to be very frustrating just being governor and the legislature is going to be really spinning wheels.

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