(Photo: Louis Gurvich):
“In rushing to pass amendments out, the House Appropriations Committee proved what we’ve been saying all along – there simply isn’t a way to fashion a budget that adequately funds our state’s pressing needs. TOPS is absolutely a priority and should be fully funded, but so should higher education institutions, health care for our seniors and those with disabilities, funding for medical schools in Shreveport and New Orleans, and our partner hospitals. Now we can see that it’s not possible to do that without replacing more of the revenue that is expiring. This budget document is not worth the paper it’s printed on, and gives nothing but false hope to students and parents who want to attend a Louisiana university or community and technical college. What we saw today from the House Appropriations Committee was not a serious attempt to tackle the problems we face."
“I’ve proposed a plan that would replace a portion of the expiring revenue, resulting in a net tax reduction on the people of Louisiana by almost $400 million, while still imposing more than $120 million in state general fund spending cuts. However, we would adequately fund health care, higher education, and TOPS, among other priorities, most of which we are simply unable to fund under the House’s proposal or the executive budget. Working together in a bipartisan way, we can fashion a budget that makes spending cuts and also responsibly funds priorities we all can agree on. This budget approved by the House Appropriations Committee has no chance of becoming law.”
further, according to the Governor's office,
"The House Fiscal Office estimated that $1.38 billion in revenue was expiring on June 30, 2018. Gov. Edwards proposed replacing that revenue with $994 million. Following a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference last week, the shortfall amount was reduced to $648 million, as a result of federal tax changes. Gov. Edwards’ plan would result in a reduction of the tax burden on the people of Louisiana by approximately $400 million and $120 million in spending cuts. The proposal would fully fund TOPS, higher education institutions, community and technical colleges, partner hospitals, and public safety.
Last week, Gov. Edwards proposed a plan that uses the additional revenue recognized by REC to erase the cut to higher education and reduce the cuts in other areas, such as law enforcement, health care, TOPS."
The final vote to send HB1 onto the full House floor was 17-6,. Floor debate is scheduled Thursday.
Perhaps one of the reasons that the Republicans have refused to buy into the budget fiscal cliff fears might have been stated by LAGOP's new Chairman, Louis Gurvich who posted on his Facebook page, the following:
The report of the non-partisan Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) was received late last week. As admitted months ago by everyone other than John Bel Edwards himself, the “fiscal cliff” claimed by the Governor throughout the recent special session ($994 million), has been drastically reduced to a maximum estimate of $648 million. A still lower deficit estimate of about $451 million has been suggested as the more accurate figure.
While we believe that these high-low fiscal cliff numbers are still excessive (and more on that soon), the non-partisan figures of the REC give the lie to the deficit claims of the Governor, which as we recall began at $1.3 billion before dropping to $1.1 billion and then to $994 million as recently as March.
The reason that John Bel Edwards kept urging these deficit claims that he knew were grossly inaccurate is because he is a career trial lawyer and his governing style, such as it is, perfectly reflects his background. He has consistently dealt with the elected representatives of the people of Louisiana as if they were simply attorneys negotiating a personal injury settlement. His strategy has always been brutally simple- walk into the room and ask for twice what the case is worth, and then settle for half your demand while hiding the smirk when the deal is done. If you don’t get a deal, blame it on the unreasonableness of your opponents while you continue to attack them.
Even a modicum of accuracy and forthrightness about the real deficit number would have promoted a less bitter and less partisan atmosphere and perhaps induced some degree of trust in the administration. We have never seen the least spark of either in this Governor, as proven over what will soon be a record nine failed legislative sessions in the remarkably short span of a little over two years.
Now this is no way to govern an impoverished state of 4.6 million people who need hope for the future which only a dynamic and growing economy can provide. Higher taxes are clearly not the answer to Louisiana’s problems. Our oft vilified Republican legislators deserve the gratitude of all Louisiana citizens, regardless of party affiliation, for taking a stand against the Governor’s charade and repeatedly defeating his economy-damaging tax proposals.
Louis Gurvich, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana