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Wednesday, 23 October 2019 09:48

Will Trump stop lying about John Bel Edwards in Louisiana Governor's race Featured

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Will someone tell President Donald Trump to stop lying about John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana budget.

We watch Trump on TV. We hear him on the radio. He rants that John Bel Edwards broke his “sacred promise” to people of the State of Louisiana and raised taxes.

What he fails to say in the commercial are the words, Bobby Jindal.

Nor does he say the words LABI.

My point is this—when John Bel Edwards and Jay Dardenne were running for Louisiana governor along with David Vitter and Scott Angelle, nobody knew the depths of the budget gap--nobody. Not the candidates, not the economists, not the legislators, nobody.
During the elections, Edwards said he had no plan to raise taxes. He said he did not want to do so, and did not plan to do so.
It was only after Edwards and Dardenne (and others) were able to look at the books under Jindal’s control, did they discover the severe crises, even worse than ever anticipated. This review occurred well after the November 2015 election, as the new administration-elect was putting together its budget.

For those in doubt that Edwards did not break a promise being promoted by Trump, his opponents, PACS, the LAGOP and others have been claiming, below are two interviews I did during 2016 when the budget crises was heavily on our minds. The first interview was with Greg Albrecht, the chief economist in the Legislative Fiscal Office, in which he stated that nobody knew how serious the budget problem was and that information was not available at the time of the elections.

In a second interview, Jay Dardenne, the Commissioner of Administration, explained further about the revelation and how monies needed to be found that they did not anticipate. Ultimately, Louisiana had to come up with three billion dollars over the first couple of years due to Jindal’s budget practices and the oil price crises.

In fact, the justification for raising taxes was so obvious that months later, during the legislative session, even Stephen Waguespack, the President and CEO of the powerful business group, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), threw out the prospects of raising two pennies of sales tax rather than one which ultimately was the magic number approved by the legislature. Funny how we don’t hear former Jindal supporters such as Rispone talk about this.

Oh, and Trump lies? Perhaps he and his ardent followers such as Gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone should read how many lies and false statements Trump has made since January 2017.

And broken promises? Let’s see, where do I start? Mexico paying for the border wall? The rich would not benefit from the tax reform? How much time do I have to list lies, false statements and broken promises?

Let me be really clear here. This is NOT an endorsement of Edwards over Rispone. Edwards's entire record is open for inspection and debate. It is only my request by this column, that outsiders and habitual liars such as Trump, bearing false witnesses in a Louisiana election, should be outed with the truth.  If Rispone has good ideas, other than being in love with everything-Trump or campaigning with his Bible, let's hear them. 

Below are the interviews:

Interview with Greg Albrecht

Then, after the November meeting, the other big part of the $750 million is within the DOA of the Jindal administration, my counterpart was asked to give us a worse case scenario-- how bad you think this could possibly get in the current fiscal year. And at the time, he gave a $400-$450 million number. This is when this number appeared and it was after the elections. That combined with the 250 for Medicaid shortfall now for the 2016 fiscal year, the MFP shortfall, the TOPS shortfall, and more which is, again, how we have gotten to the $750 shortage

When they were campaigning, there was no talk of 750 million current year problem. We knew we had an oil price problem and other revenue weaknesses as well. Almost all of which no one would have been aware during the campaign.

Now the coming up with the 750 and is composed of a chunk of 400-450 new revenue worse-case-guess. Much of which is Medicaid that was not known until you found out in December, again, that the Jindal administration was going to use some DHH resources that would have otherwise covered that shortfall which they use for the operating budget.

Now I would have to say that he did not know much of this.

Now the 400 to 450 worst-case revenue (I'm just going to use this terminology, we don't know how bad it can get)”. We’re going to nail that down in terms of an official REC adoption on February 10. And some number will be adopted by the REC. That reflects their official decision, Whether that's 450, 400, 300, 500, I don't know yet. But that piece of the 750 is going to get fixed or designated.”

Interview with Jay Dardenne

SABLUDOWSKY: Okay, so let's talk, if you don't mind--the $2 billion, there was a legislator from North Louisiana and others, who said that we are spending $2 billion more than we spent last year, so therefore, we don't need any more revenues. And, the governor said that, basically, that's a myth. So could you explain

DARDENNE: It is a myth. And let me explain to you why it is--it is correct that our general fund budget and our overall is higher by about $2 billion, I think it's not quite 2 billion. The primary reason for that is that the governor has authorized the expansion of Medicaid. And that is going to deliver to Louisiana, federal dollars at a much higher match rate than has previously been. The state put up 38 cents of every dollar and the feds would put up 62, if memory serves me. I believe those are the correct numbers. For the rest of this calendar year, beginning July 1 for the remaining six months, the federal are going to pay 100% of the expanded Medicaid coverage. And then, that will drop eventually to 90%. But it will ratchet back to about 95% beginning January 1 of next year. The blended rate comes to about 97.5% that the federal government will be paying for anybody who is part of Medicaid expansion. So that's about 1.6 and, $1.7 billion of new money that has to be budget by the state and included in our budgets. So that's 1.7 million right there of the approximate $2 billion increase. The difference comes about, because we've had to reconcile and fix the problems created by the Jindal administration because of their reliance for eight years one-time money to balance the budget. We did not include any one time money in there. So therefore, we had to use recurring state dollars to pay for recurring state expenses. We had to deal with the fact that the Jindal administration failed to recognize any increase in expenditures in the Medicaid program that previously existed when in fact they knew--utilization would be higher as it's been each year. And they did not plan for that in their budget, and they also, as we have talked about repeatedly, postponed payments to medical providers. So that in the previous fiscal year, we only made 11, not 12, monthly payments to physicians and other providers of Medicaid services. That meant we had to pay 13 payments in the fiscal year that began a week ago. And that number increased from what we would have had to pay, because we delayed paying it, so will going to pay that 10 million more than we ever otherwise would have. That's about 136 million, right there, of expenditures that we have to provide for in the new fiscal year that simply was forgotten in the previous fiscal year. So that's the short and simple explanation why this budget has grown. And again, I don't think that you going to have anybody who will refute those factual statements I just made about how we got to this point in time.

SABLUDOWSKY: So there wasn't an increase in general funds, if anything, it was money, a couple hundred million dollars to repay some of the departments and funds

DARDENNE: No, not to repay the departments. This was about having to deal with the one-time 13 payments and the fact that we had $800 million in one-time money built into the previous year's budget that we did not include in this. When we started, we had to make up $800 million in recurring state general fund dollars to make up for the 800 million in one-time money that was part of Jindal's final budget. His going- away present was the biggest amount of one-time money they had in any of the budgets.


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