by Stephen Waguespack, President and CEO of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
As a dad, one of my duties at home is to be a “fix-it” guy. While I may not be the handiest person out there, I can usually put some “MacGyver-esque” skills to the test and find a solution to a wide range of challenges around the house. I’ve replaced a doorbell, repaired a few windows, laid down some tile, fixed a garage door opener, hung a few ceiling fans and kept an old AC unit running for a few years longer than it ever should have lasted. I can open a wine bottle with a shoe (seriously) and once repaired some reading glasses with a chopstick. You shouldn’t hire me to build your dream home, but I can usually cobble together a workable solution or two for a project around the house when needed.
One million dollars down the drain to pay for a special session of the Louisiana legislature. And all for naught. The Governor is hollering that the financial sky is falling and the state is in dire fiscal straights. Legislators protest that their hands are tied by too many constitutional dedications. And since there is little appetite for trimming the budget, the legislature now begins its regular gathering at the state capitol with a shortfall of over one billion dollars.
S&P released a statement following the Louisiana legislative fiscal session debacle which ended without a solution to the state's serious budget problem. Of note, S&P stated Louisiana "inched closer" to its "manufactured" fiscal cliff.
When Ronald Reagan wanted to push a bill through a recalcitrant House ruled by Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill (as bad as he was, O’Neill was still head and shoulders above current Speaker Paul Ryan in terms of leadership and ability), he would go on national television and appeal directly to the American voters.
The Louisiana legislative process crashed with no fix for the massive fiscal cliff. What happened and where do we go from here?
This was the gist of the questions I had for Tyler Bridges, reporter for The Advocate, who covers the Louisiana legislature and politics for the newspaper. Now that the legislative fiscal session 2018, called by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, is history and all that’s left for now, is the blame game. It is obvious that DC politics has hit Louisiana. Republicans and Democrats don’t trust one another. Not that this comes as a surprise. But what might be the impact to the state and vital institutions, now that the impasse has been recorded?
As is almost always the case, in the world of politics, whether it is world, national, state or local, once a failure tkes place, the blame game is soon to follow. On Monday, the Louisiana legislative session came to a screeching halt. The Governor initially blasted the House Speaker Barras Taylor, a republican. The Louisiana GOP slammed the governor. Today, Bayoubuzz's Jeff Crouere published hs analysis, citing Edwards as the culprit. Edwards's office sent out its own missive, with extracted portions of media comments in its favor. The left-leaning, Louisiana Budget project, supported Edwards, not the Republicans.
Once again, a special legislative session ended in disaster for the taxpayers of Louisiana. During the administration of Governor John Bel Edwards, there have been five special sessions, each one costing taxpayers approximately $1 million. For a state that is supposedly facing a “fiscal cliff,” it is outrageous that we have wasted $5 million on special sessions.
An obviously dejected Governor of Louisiana faced the news media Monday afternoon after failing to bring the forces together to fix what is commonly called the Fiscal Cliff problem of roughly a billion dollars that faces the state due to the expiration of temporary sales taxes and other measures. It was second straight legislative session and the second straight defeat.
Today is being called D-Day or even the Drop Dead Day when referring to the Louisiana legislative special session being held in Baton Rouge. Conventional wisdom is, if things don’t really jumpstart now, you can kiss the revenue raising session goodbye.
Roughly 11 days ago, Governor John Bel Edwards first gaveled in the fiscal session, to fix what was considered by many, a roughly 600 to 1 billion dollar hole in the budget for the year 2018, starting July 1. However, the session has literally gone nowhere.
Will the Louisiana Legislature Humpty Dumpty be able to be put back again?
The Legislative session, which has been up and running now for the past ten days, or so, has fallen off of the wall. Some might believe the fiscal session never got off the ground onto the wall, at all.