Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards has presented a doomsday budget with higher education and healthcare getting squeezed once again. The Republicans are not buying.
What’s the people to do? Do they side with the Edwards administration in this ongoing debate or the conservative legislature?
Thus, the conundrum: According to pollster Bernie Pinsonat, Louisiana voters are quite satisfied with Governor John Bel Edwards. However, based upon his December survey numbers, with the budget again out of whack, the governor’s popularity might be short-lived. Edwards is starting the third year of his four year term. While nobody has come out yet to declare a run against the governor, the line is getting long with possible contenders.
On Wednesday, I interviewed Pinsonat about his December survey of Louisiana voters as we discussed current issues facing the state’s voters. In particular, the state is facing an estimated one billion dollar budget shortfall. Two years ago, when Edwards took over the reign from Bobby Jindal, the state--upon the urging of the Governor, the Democrats and the Republican Senate--passed a one-penny sales tax increase, making it the state with the highest sales tax, nationally.
Unfortunately, that sales tax expires July 1. Thus, the Louisiana governor and the legislature need to decide before then, sooner rather than later, what they plan to do about the budget hole.
In part 3 of the interview (which summary is below), we talked specifically about the penny sales tax, John Bel Edwards’s high popularity and budget cuts.
Pinsonat said the December survey is very educational in terms of the Governor’s popularity and the budget nightmare. Indeed, John Bel Edwards’s favorables are at 64% which is light-years better than perhaps his most formidable opponent, US Senator John Kennedy. Edwards also performs significantly better than the other Republican Senator Bill Cassidy.
Both senators hover under 50 percent in popularity-favorables.
Pinsonat stated that while Edwards’s numbers are very high, only 25% of those surveyed want to renew the penny sales tax without budget cuts. He calls that “a small number of people” who want to keep the penny sales tax and not cut. By comparison, according to the poll, 38% don’t want to renew the penny but cut.
During the interview, he said the problem for the current conservative legislators who control the capitol--if they vote for a sales tax extension without cuts, they might be facing a future opponent who campaigns on a “cut tax campaign agenda”.
Such a electoral prospect is not a pretty sight.
Pinsonat indicated that there is an education problem. He blamed the media to an extent for their failure to educate the voters on his budget poll numbers. He said they point out Edwards’s popularity as evidenced by the survey but they don’t express how unpopular the sales tax is to the voters.
He said there there is nothing in his survey that indicates that the Louisiana voters want to maintain the sales tax without cutting government. While he noted that might change, he also warned that “threatening fiscal cliff echo has never worked”.
Not only are the people tired of the fiscal cliff scare, the pollster said, but “they have heard that for 30 years and nobody's ever fallen of the cliff and died”.
Of significant importance to the debate is the fact that conservative House republicans, “who are close to the people in the small districts” hear this message back home.
“That’s why we have this impasse”, Pinsonat said.
The people are not telling Republican legislators to “go support John Bel Edwards and raise my taxes, it's not happening”, he noted.
(This segment begins at the 23:07 mark on the Youtube video and ends at the 27:27 point)