Finally, after three special sessions and a regular one, it's time to relax, do the things that hard-working legislators (and governors) long to do after a long grueling hard-fought battle over the budget--pick up the pieces of one's life and, if at all possible, spend quality time with family, check out those hires burning at the office and hopefully take a moment of leisure.
The fiscal cliff, that seemingly insurmountable object in front of every legislative session since Bobby Jindal took his shot at taming the budget, is fixed. Yes, fixed. At least, on paper and hopefully, in reality, until perhaps, the next mid-decade.
The Louisiana legislators and governor, who have spent almost every day in session since mid-February of this year, have settled upon a budget deal that reduces the sales tax from five cents to 4.45 cents. Today, The Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges, who has been there with the legislators as each tick has tocked on the capitol clock, took a few moments to discuss with me--the session and the budget agreement. The interview occured via Facebook and Twitter Live.
Below is the video transcript of the relevant portions of the interview with Bridges, who will also soon post a "behind the budget deal scene" article for The Advocate.
According to a tweet by Times Picayune capitol bureau reporter Julia O'Donoghue, who knows, there might be some type of compromise in the legislature during the special session. The reporter indicated today that the "Talk is that the new sales tax rate that they will be trying to pass in the House is a 4.45 sales tax rate. That's between the 4.4 sales tax rate the House GOP wanted and the 4.5 sales tax rate".
Is there some way that Louisiana can gets its budgetary house in order? What is the problem? Did it begin under current Governor John Bel Edwards? Is Medicaid the culprit? Can we reform higher ed?
On Tuesday, I discussed the budget with former State Representative Brett Geymann, a budget hawk, who was term-limited and who left the legislature after the 2015 election. Geymann believes that the state budget should be tied to the economy and we will publish his thoughts on this tomorrow, as we went more into detail on that issue in the latter part of the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Live discussion.
Respectful and refreshing.
Those are the words that came to my mind after discussing the Louisiana budget issues with former conservative Republican House of Representative Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, this morning via Bayoubuzz’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Live.
If you had the dictatorial powers to fix the Louisiana budget, how would you do it? Raise taxes such as sales taxes? Increase the income taxes? Property taxes?
On Monday, hours prior to the Louisiana legislative special session, number three, started, i asked John Kay Jr., how would he fix the state's problem with the budget? Kay is the State Director for the Louisiana Chapter of the Americans for Prosperity organization, a group funded by the conservative Koch Brothers. It favors smaller government.
Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards delivered this statement to the legislature as the 3rd fiscal session of the year commenced to fix the budget:
As prepared for delivery:
With the Louisiana legislature revving up to start later this afternoon for its 3rd special session to deal with next year's budget which starts July 1 this year, here's the big question--will three be the charm? Actually, if you want to get technical, you can add the regular session to the mix, which would make four. However, that regular session prohibited raising any revenues since it was not a fiscal session, so, we won't count it to the tally.
Governor John Bel Edwards and his administration claims that the state needs to raise the sales tax to 4.5 cents this legislative session beginning Monday. If the legislature, particularly the House do not produce enough votes to hit that supermajority needed to raise taxes, Edwards and others are claiming that fiscal hell will break loose. They claim that University kids and parents will have to fork over 30 percent of the TOPS scholarship plus the colleges would be in the hole close to over 100 million dollars. They claim that homes for the aged will close, food stamps disappear, 10,000 non-violent criminals will hit the streets.
Is it "throw granny out of her bed time, once again, as the Louisiana legislature continues the budget debate? Or, do those precious aged folks really have much to worry about, again, this time?
Earlier this spring, an uproar occurred during the budget debate of the regular session, when Governor John Bel Edwards announced that letters would be sent out to notify some seniors in nursing homes that they might have to be evicted if the revenues do not come to fruition to accomodate their services. The Republicans screamed bloody murder, claiming the Governor was ruthlessly scaring seniors, unnecessarily.
It's the Louisiana seventeen cents penny opera.
When one really considers the current debate in the Louisiana legislature starting next week in another special session to complete the budget for next year which fiscal year starts July 1, the differences between the revenues that have been approved so far compared to those that the Governor and others want to pay for government services already appropriated, is miniscule.
As has been reported, the difference between the 33% and the 4.5% of a single penny comes down to a mere seventeen cents sales tax on a one hundred dollars of a purchase.