Louisiana’s business voice, LABI, as well as the Louisiana Insurance Department each took a huge hit in the waning days of the recent legislative session. LABI, with the full support of Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, pegged legislation to supposedly reduce insurance rates in the state as the most important proposed legislation of the session.
Let's suppose you're the Governor of one of the worst performing states. You're a Democrat in a very conservative state in a very conservative region. You know the revenues on the table in a Republican dominated legislature cannot come close to meeting your obligations to match even last year's budget. You and most of your legislators are running for re-election. The Republican party is gunning for your head since you beat one of them to win the keys to the mansion. You called a special session in the spring, which failed to create a compromise on a budget for next year. After the ordinary legislative session completed, you called another one, which again blew up with very little to show for the roughly $1.4 million dollars spent to get to almost zero done for the second time in four months. And now, with the new fiscal year going into effect, you have no choice but to call another one but you know that the two political extremes simply don't see eye to eye and appear to want to defy the other extreme, simply to make a point.
This is the proximate situation Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is currently facing as time is running out for a budget fix and possibly even in his political career as governor should he not achieve a legislative win.
On Wednesday, Christopher Tidmore and I discussed Edwards's options. Tidmore is the political editor for the Louisiana Weekly and talk radio show host.
Here is the first part of the conversation. Below is the video and transcript part 2 of this particular segment, which starts at the 35 minute, 58 second mark on the video. Part 3, tomorrow:
The administration so far has not been willing to agree to a tax of less than five years for a legitimate reason. Five years is the minimum part that Wall Street considers funding when it comes to the bond rating. So they can't really put that on the table otherwise we might have had a deal already for two years, just get us through the election, possibly, possibly not. So what else is the governor willing to do because from a political standpoint. The question is what is the governor willing to do to say to the Republicans--I can give you this and get it will give you cover, because you are taking a politically risky stand. It's not about the comparatively small a bit of money.
It's about the ideological statement that Republican who was elected on an absolute platform of no new taxes has already allowed one sales tax to go on for two or three years, for two years--18 months really-- and had told his constituents it was completely temporary for crisis. Now he's basically extending half of that for five years. The governor needs to come up and say to him in old fashioned political horse trading, and not "hey you got a road in your district which is how the governor is thinking"--something on a rather large scale that comes through. What is that? I thought for a while what the governor was going to endorse was a constitutional convention--the idea that was pushed by Neal Abramson. Personal animosity between the governor and Abramson, even Abramson is a Democratic, he tends to vote with Republicans.
He's a committee chairman--has pretty much killed that for now, at least for the this session. And I don't know what else the governor can give up that actually would make a difference at this late date. And I think what's going on between the administration representatives particularly Jay Dardenne and Taylor Barras, is this--"look, we got to pass the half-penny. There's no way around this, we're not going to call the revenue estimating conference back, that's off the table" Maybe it's not but I'm guessing it is in the next seven days.
So, what can we do for you to get this passed that doesn't involve a large budgetary cut--beyond one or two percent? And I think there's a lot of flummoxed in the administration about what they can do--because remember John Bel Edwards is himself going into a very tough reelection. He cannot afford--he's a pro-life, pro-gun Democrat. The thing he's gonna be talking about, believe it or not in this election, is how he passed a 15 week abortion limit, because it's gonna get him credibility with conservatives and it doesn't hurt him with African-Americans who tend to be socially conservative.
But if he starts giving away economic stuff, it could affect African-American turnout and poor Democratic turnout and affect his reelection which will already be tight. It will not be the 60-40 David Vitter type of thing. And he's in a trick bag. Right now, he gets hurt but the Republicans get blamed for the budget being-- hurting TOPS effectively. If he doesn't get blamed .
It is difficult to fathom how Louisiana legislature and our Governor John Bel Edwards have gotten us in the situation where fiscal matters dealing with the budget are more chaotic now than they were after the traumas and horrors of Hurricane Katrina. But they are.
Last night, the House Republicans ran out the clock, preventing any further opportunities to emerge for a late, last-minute deal. They were adamant that they were not going to budge on the revenues increase. Nor were the Governor and others willing to toe the line on spending and on raising taxes.
by Ron Chapman
It has taken a while, but Louisiana has finally achieved the distinction of passing up Mississippi. After a lot of effort, finally, we are LAST in Education.
According to Wallethub, a credit scoring company, “Louisiana has the worst public school system in the nation.” The state scored 48th in Math, 48th in Reading, 45th in drop-out rates, and 47th in ACT scores. Only 29% of the population is college educated. That should not be surprising when the state scores 40th in college readiness and 44th in High School graduation percentages.
Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, after completing a failed fiscal session ending last week, embarked upon the regular session today, held annually during the Spring. The fiscal session was called as a special legislative session so revenues could be raised. These revenues or taxes cannot be raised during a regular session. Edwards wants the session to end early so it can engage in another fiscal session at the end of the regular-scheduled spring session to handle the close to one billion dollars in budget shortages.
Below is the transcript of today's speech to the Louisiana legislative session. The speech was streamed live by Bayoubuzz.com with related tweets off to the side.
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.
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.
It’s not so much whether Louisiana’s House of Representative’s Republican delegation can unite to address immediate fiscal concerns, but whether some faction of it will defect to hand Louisianans a big tax bill for the foreseeable future.
The Louisiana legislative fiscal session starts today, is scheduled for no more than 17 days. A week later, the regular session begins. For the first time ever, session watchers will be able to watch live streamed legislature information on Facebook and Twitter and on Bayoubuzz.com.