Sunday, 25 March 2018 16:30

Divided Louisiana legislature, REC meeting plans, GOP control, JBE

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divided house2Can the Louisiana Republicans finally get major cuts to the budget as the fiscal hawks have demanded for years? How much of a budget hole is there? Why did the Louisiana legislative fiscal session, called last month to fill an almost one-billion dollar hole, fail without anything to show for its efforts? Did Governor John Bel Edwards have a firm plan?  Can we really blame the Republicans for its lack of unity as the Governor has done with the special session fizzle or were the Democrats just as divided?

These are the general issues discussed in part of a Bayoubuzz Facebook Live video interview with The Advocate Reporter Elizabeth Crisp on Friday.

Joining me in the discussion was Jim Brown.  Below is the transcript of the relevant portion which begins at the 5 minute, 18 second mark on the Youtube video below and finishes at the 14 minute, 26 second mark.   

Here is part 1 of the interview.

Race, budgetary resulting in Louisiana Legislator's frayed nerves

I did a video with Rob Maness and last Friday and basically the proposition of the discussion was that everything is in a sense in the Republican Party's hand--they could cut it, they could cut seven hundred million dollars, if that's what you know the shortfall is and just in if the governor calls a special session, then they don't have to vote for it because it's just gonna be a majority rule vote and so they're saying they want to cut, this would be a chance for them to cut to the bone.  I'm not advocating they do so ,so, am I correct about that?

Um yeah, and you know one of the one of the questions right now is-- how much is the shortfall. I took, I talked to House speaker Taylor Barras yesterday and he says that on Monday he expects to really kind of start his planning for when he will call the next REC meeting to figure out what exactly is the latest budget projection, we know that there's going to be some boost to the state because of the federal tax right and its impact on the state revenue.  So  we've seen the past two weeks House Appropriations has brought all of the agency heads in to hear their budget requests, talk to them about how much money they need, so at least right now, the House Republicans do say that that is what they're what they're trying to do.  You can leave it up to interpretation why that hasn't happened over the past two years, but I think before heading into another special session, they do want to see if there are some ways that they can cut the budget right now.  There's just that question of how much is it?  It's, it's not, it's definitely not 994 which is the latest REC projection, but where is it?  There's there's a lot of question there I think that once you get that number then you'll start seeing some more realistic look at cuts, probably.

What's your view about leaders, there Elizabeth, my experience has been that if the governor called a special session, he did so to address a problem and present a very specific solution, and the feeling is, and that may be of the average viewers misreading this, but I heard this last night in North Louisiana, and I've heard it in New Orleans this week, that the governor said "hey we got a shortfall let's call a special session and see what we can do".   There was no really nuts and bolts specificity and then following up Steve's question--often you would see "okay governor we're not going to buy off on that, here's our plan" that you would expect from the Republican leadership.  And the perception, at least is, that the Democrats under John bel Edwards have failed to get very specific in terms of how they're going to fill the gap in a reasonable manner, knowing full well that we're not going to see a billion dollars versus verses and new taxes, and and the Republicans have not offered the leadership to say look--"that's not right here's the gap we have to fill, we're gonna do it by going one two three.  Do you sense the theory is--that that kind of leadership like we've seen in the past for both parties? 

It's interesting, it does feel like I don't know if it's a communication issue or what but yeah why-why would you have a governor call a special session without some feeling, some assurance, that something is actually going to happen.  Right? I mean it falls on him too and he constantly said I'm not gonna call a special session unless I feel like everybody's on board and we can get,  we can pass something.  So I don't, I'm not sure what the breakdown was there and and you know there is a disconnect and when when you talk to the House Speaker he says you know we always said, we would try to get this, if you could get your people on board, and he has, pointed out that--the sale, the issue over the sales tax, you had a lot of Democrats who were not in favor of that and they did not feel that in good faith that there would be anything that they wanted, if they went along with the sales tax proposal.  So it really just kind of seemed like like a breakdown on all sides.  Nobody was really sure of what the other side wanted, like you would expect going into a special session, usually, these deals are even--even though,  whether it's right or wrong, I mean, I I'm submitting, I believe that the legislative process should go on in the in the public and people should know what their elected officials are doing, but you know the truth of it is, a lot of these deals go on behind the scenes and so you wouldn't necessarily expect a two-week special session to be called without already knowing what's gonna happen in it. 

So if anybody has a question go ahead and post the question or comment and I'll do my best to read them out likewise on Twitter I'm going to be putting up some tweets in a few seconds dealing with these issues, as you probably remember we communicate on Twitter last week or so, I had posted a a article that we had pulled from from WBOK radio and basically the discussion was, that there was actually division between say the, within a Democrats, the black caucus versus the governor and that the governor wanted, as in terms of a compromise, the governor wanted a half-cent compromise and the black caucus said "no that's we're not gonna", in terms of sales tax, "we're not going to go with that".  A lot of people, including myself, watching the governor at the end of the session I mean he didn't mention anything about that disagreement.  You wrote about it and a lot of people didn't write about it.  And you heard a lot of Republicans say, "wait a minute it's not just us against the governor, the governor doesn't have his his side together.  Your take, please.

Um yeah you know it was it was interesting at the governor's press conference at the end of the special session.  The black caucus did join him in that press conference and we have had several members of the Black Caucus who made a point to speak from the floor saying that they don't have issues with the governor, that they're very much in support of the governor, but there did seem to be some breakdown.  The governor agreed to the House Republican priorities including the Medicaid work requirements which he has already said that he was in favor of and pursuing, but that was that was a big point of contention, and we saw a lot of debates over that, particularly members of the Black Caucus took issue with that legislation and you know I asked during that press conference, noticing there were several of those members who took issue with that proposal in the room, I asked  did you explain to people that you already are in favor of work requirements and where does that stand?  And you know do you feel like you have the support of your party behind a position like that?  And so I think that, I think that right now, there are, a lot of, I don't know, a lot of factions all over the place.  You think of the governor, he is a Democrat but he's not your traditional Democrat, he was you know one of the white rural Democrats when he was in the house.  He remains anti-abortion, he was in the military and so there are a lot of these issues that he doesn't necessarily line up and I think that for so long there was this kind of void in the Democratic Party here where there was never really a question of who was in in power because there wasn't a lot of power to go around in the Democratic Party here.  So right now, I think that they're just kind of going through some of those growing pains a little bit and then obviously in the Republican Party, I think that a part of that is just, the moderate Republicans and then you have--the more right of that--and so there are some breakdowns that are still occurring and people trying to reconcile with those differences.


Last modified on Monday, 26 March 2018 14:55

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