These are some of the issues discussed in part two of the interview with Dr. James “Jim” Richardson of LSU. As discussed in part 1 of the interview, Dr. Richardson, an economist, has been on the Revenue Estimating conference since its inception. His vote in deriving a revenue projection range is equal to that of the Louisiana governor, House speaker or Senate President, each having one vote, with unanimity required.
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SABLUDOWSKY So going back to September, October of last year, honestly, there was a lot of discussion, a lot of political debate, actually, with the campaigns--and there was a question as to whether or not the candidates knew how bad things were. And, you have any opinion about that at all? In terms of, can anybody project, that, reasonably project, that the economy, that the Louisiana economy, in terms of revenues would be as bad? The governor said that it had worsened by a factor of two, meaning--doubled--in terms of worsening. Your thoughts?
DR. RICHARDSON:I cannot tell you exactly what each of the candidates thought but I do know that I talked to each of them. They were very attentive. All of them certainly had been "clued in"-- that if they wanted the governorship, the first order of business would be to deal with the budget. Now, if it was $2 billion next year or 1.6 billion or only 1.2 billion it was still a big number. And I think they all understood that. Now, as the campaign went on that did not become the focal point of the campaign at all, to a certain extent, because they all knew that was the issue. There was not a debate, one could not say there was no budget crisis. They all had to agree, had to accept the fact that there was going to be a budget issue, regardless who was elected governor. There was going to be a special session, because they had to have one. Now, maybe they would have done a few things differently? Now that's a different issue there. But I think they all knew that there was going to be a budget problem. And, perhaps, it was shortly in October when they were running they did not expect the price of oil to be $30 a barrel, but they knew it was going to be lower than $60 a barrel, much lower than that. From that angle, no, that was well known but because as the campaign progressed and since they all agreed to a certain extent silently that there was going to be a budget problem, that was not the differentiating factor of who was going win the governor's race. So, I guess as a practical matter, as a politician, why talk about something bad like that you probably won't win you any votes.
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