The sky is falling, the sky is falling. At least the Louisiana fiscal sky is in a tailspin, or so says Governor John Bel Edwards and a number of legislative leaders. The hue and cry is for one billion dollars in new taxes along with significant fee increases. Even the local papers are chiming in with headlines like “The fiscal threat is real to colleges” and about to “get real.” What a poor taxpayer to think?
The war of words over how to deal with a budget deficit or otherwise in Louisiana annual parlance, the fiscal cliff, is mounting as the temporary sales tax comes to an end this week. The sales tax brings roughly one billion dollars into the state coffers.
Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has taken to the press pulpit to argue that Republican moderates want a plan presented by their members but the fiscal conservatives refuse to present one, thus, a budgetary showdown that will result in major reductions in government spending.
A recent poll by Southern Media and Opinion Research shows that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards enjoys a 65% approval rating among voters. Edwards, the only statewide elected Democrat, has seen a surge in his poll numbers since the last legislative session.
Unfortunately for Edwards, there is a legislative session slated to begin in the spring. According to pollster Bernie Pinsonat, the Governor’s “job ratings are apparently affected by legislative sessions with talk of taxes and budget deficits.”
Hours after the United States President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress celebrated a humongous legislative victory with passing its tax reform package in record time without any Democratic support, back home in Louisiana, there's a different tune being sung.
First, up in DC: The US tax reform plan passed without any hearings and sworn testimony. Very few, if anyone in Congress read the legislation since none of them even saw it until an hour or so before the vote. That legislation, which passed and signed into law today, put the finishing touches upon the Trump-led US Congressional congressional agenda in which all respect for the ordinary congressional process was ignored. Earlier this year, Republicans unsuccessfully yet similarly attempted to repeal Obamacare without any hearings, or participation by the minority Democrats and yes, without legislation being available for lawmakers to debate.
On Monday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards spoke in general terms about his plans for the upcoming fiscal cliff which is anticipated to be around $1 billion for the year beginning July 1, 2018. At a luncheon today Edwards delivered remarks at an event hosted by Committee of 100, Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL), Public Affairs Research Council (PAR) and the Louisiana Budget Project.
Is Louisiana looking at another special session in 2018 to deal with—what seems to be the never-ending budget shortfall? What is Governor John Bel Edwards doing to fix what appears to be an annual rite of spring—budgetary emergency management? And, just how bad is the budget bleeding going to be given that the state could fall off that proverbial fiscal cliff which near-fall was softened two years ago with a penny sales tax increase and other measures?
In part three of the November 2 interview with Stephen Waguespack, the President, and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the leader of the largest business organization in the state discussed these and other issues confronting the state, once again.