Below is Part 2 of my Facebook and Twitter Live interview I had with Tim Morris, the conservative columnist for the Times Picayune, in which the focus was on these and other issues. Here is Part 1, which we published yesterday.
Tim Morris opines about Louisiana legislature fiscal session 2018
The Louisiana budget mess
SABLUDOWSKY: We've had cuts pretty much every year for ten years am i correct?
MORRIS: Yeah, I mean the budget grows because obviously there are things the Medicaid expansion made a big difference and you get again we can argue sure whether it's something the state should have done, but the state now has to put up money a lot of that is federal money although the marginal shifts as we move forward but this is essentially a standstill budget it may be the largest ever but you have to figure out that, as with everything, there are new costs coming up and whether it be the pensions or just programs that you're having to spend more more money on.
I've had this discussion with some lawmakers. We had eight years of Bobby Jindal who was, in part, because he was gonna run for president, was committed to the idea of cutting the size of government and yet the way he ended up balancing the budget was using a lot of temporary money for long term programs, sweeping the budgets of the different agencies, so he couldn't make it work either--and it was not honest and I think most everybody I talked to agrees with that. But what is the problem and I know you discuss this with other people, the problem is there's something wrong with our structure, sales tax is not, I mean--it's a way to get the immediate money now but over the long haul is not the best way for us to be raising revenue. So, there needs to be an honest debate, I think a constitutional convention may be a part of that, but I think there's things that you can do without the constitutional convention to change the budget structure. That as for as long term stability so that we're not every year or every other year having this argument about fiscal cliffs or not, that's what it's going to take.
SABLUDOWSKY: Yeah I think a lot of people had hoped that the basic focus on the structure would have have taken place in the last three years, I mean that's kind of what the gubernatorial election was about. But you with the the fiscal cliffs every year you know it's kind of difficult to, basically you're just trying to plug the dike.
MORRIS: Right and when they when they made the taxes temporary two years ago, that was the argument-- saying, in between, we're gonna figure out a way to fix it and this is where I think you know a lot criticism goes to the legislature, but the governor's office I don't think also has stepped up and said here's a great plan. They've done some kind of exotic suggestions, in some ways on how the tax but nobody has really said this is the an honest way to do this on the budget. So I think, to me, both sides have been laxed in trying to actually address that and that's why we're where we are today. If there was an honest debate and if there was real effort to change the structure and make things more equitable but also not consistent, our bond rating would be improved, businesses would feel better about knowing what taxes they're gonna pay from year to year, individuals would as well, you know but politics-- I asked this question to Jan yesterday on your program, next year the governor and all the statewide elected officials and all the the lawmakers House and Senate will be up for election, and so, I'm skeptical that we'll do anything next year and so whatever we do, whatever we do in this special session and he's rolled out for a year and we may be going through this again next year during that election aside
SABLUDOWSKY: So I'm looking at the comment again from Tim Allen Matthews and his focus has been, he says referring to the budget but that's what's required when business makes a bad choice and here's another comment refers to efficient crisis budget and if I can just encapsulate I think what he's saying is that that basically we are spending on money on things we shouldn't be spending money on we're doing it, we're not doing efficiently and so when we stop doing those type of things then he will have more confidence that we should be raising revenues--and I apologize if I'm wrong if I mischaracterize Tim Allen Matthews overall comments but I think that's pretty much what he said
MORRIS: Right. and it's a great point. I mean the transparency, do we have enough transparency so that you and I know my tax dollars go to this and that were they're being expanded for that? And I don't I don't know that we do, I think there's been some efforts to improve that, but somebody really needs to be engaged to try to figure out you know how that all works, but it's still, it's not, it's not easy and it's not simple, so for instance, so the Medicaid expansion this is one of the things that I know that the Republicans, so this was something the governor was able to do unilaterally and he commits us now for a long term on this, in which in every budget in every state health care is the most inflationary thing that's happening, health care continues to get more expensive.
And as you add more people becomes more expensive. But my point would be that somebody has always been paying for that, I mean one of the things you learned of this pretty early on, is there's nothing that's free. So hospitals were dealing with uncompensated care for years, that was not efficient, even though you know we had the the charity system and they they were trying to absorb all this--state taxpayers were coming in and having to bail them out. Now, we now we have the private hospitals and they're saying the same thing-- look you know without Medicaid or some other sort of insurance program we are asked to eat the cost of people who can't afford it, meanwhile those people get less healthy and and had to deal with the problems through the emergency rooms it's just more expensive.
So you could say well we never should have expanded Medicaid because now we're spending all this money, but we were always spending the money, it just it just wasn't as obvious. So when you get out of those debates I think it's just not always so clear. Again I think, did we do the best in setting up Medicaid? I don't know. I don't know, it's possible that you could have that argument--but as to me-- is a lawmaker, you're saying "okay, well whether I like it or not, that's what happened.
How can I make the best of this? How can I make sure that the the Department of Hospitals is running this thing correctly? How can I make sure that we are not being inefficient elsewhere, but it's you know a twenty nine billion dollar budget there's just a lot of things and you and I could say well we shouldn't be spending for that or we should be anymore for this and a lot of it is very subjective.