Tic Toc. Tic Toc.
Roughly nine hours to go. When the clock strikes 12 midnight tonight, despite commonly-held belief, the princess won’t turn into a rag. But, if the Louisiana legislature and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards do not resolve their differences, the bells would have tolled and the Louisiana legislative session will have collapsed again over the issue of the budget. Some call this process, fixing the fiscal cliff.
Only four full days, excluding today, left in the second extraordinary fiscal session of the Louisiana legislature called to fix the fiscal cliff, 2018.
Will the Louisiana legislature be able to come to an agreement prior to Monday midnight? Will a legislative agreement include more cuts to higher education, the hospitals, TOPS, the prison system and government infrastructure? If so, will the governor John Bel Edwards sign the budget into law?
What’s a governor to do? What’s a Louisiana governor to do?
Which was somewhat the issue discussed yesterday. That’s when long-time State elected official and political observer Jim Brown and equally long-time political writer Tom Aswell (publisher of LouisianaVoice) and I got together online to talk about the current budget mess up in Baton Rouge. That mess might also be known as the “second special Louisiana Legislative fiscal session of 2018”. If the mess is not cleaned sufficiently over the next seven days, there is talk about a third crack at getting it right.
The Governor in question, of course is Democrat John Bel Edwards. He has started his third year in office and is trying to get his agenda and budget plans through the Republican-dominated legislature. His approach is a blend of taxes and spending cuts.
The Louisiana legislature is back in session for the fiscal budget fix. The assumption and perhaps conventional wisdom is that the legislature will somehow compromise on the $650 to $670 million dollar shortfall compared to last year’s budget for government services. But, that is no certainty.
Earlier this year, when there was roughly a billion dollar shortage, the legislature failed to pass a budget and while the current projected budget is now smaller, it would still take compromising on the part of all the lawmakers and the Governor, John Bel Edwrds.
"Our Louisiana" or Political Theater?
It depends on your politics and your choice of theaters, perhaps
Today, in Lafayette Louisiana Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards and Republican Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser started the sixth special session in two and a half years to deal with the Louisiana budget woes, left from the prior governor, Republican Bobby Jindal.
Louisiana Oil and Gas looks for fairness during Louisiana fiscal legislative session as the sixth special session starts today
Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and lt. Governor Billy Nungesser are addressing a large crowd in Lafayette Louisiana as part of a new promotion of “Our Louisiana”. The obvious goal is to fashion some type of settlement so that the State of Louisiana can balance this year’s budget and perhaps, create a fairer and more stable method to structure the receipt of revenues and the payment of government services. The special session, starting today, is the sixth--focused upon dealing with major shortages in the state’s budget.
The Louisiana legislative session, part two, is finally coming to an end. Part one occurred earlier this year as a special fiscal session, in which the legislature could not agree upon a budget at all. However, given that the legislature could not raise revenues during the part two or regular session this year, that just might occur on Tuesday, when another special session kicks off, or, shall we say, legislative session, part three?
The 2018 vintage of the Louisiana legislature has been in session now since February 19 2018. Initially, it met in an extraordinary fiscal session called by Governor John Bel Edwards to grapple with the then-one billion dollar budget shortfall. That two week endeavor ended in failure. Essentially nothing was passed.
Legislators being in session for essentially the first half of each year for the past series of springs has become a regular occurence, primarily due to major budgetary issues. The individual lawmakers are tired. Nerves are frayed. The everyday grind focuses upon minutia. They are underpaid. And perhaps worse of all, nothing seems to be getting done. Bills are getting killed.
Christopher Tidmore essentially calls it a game of legislative chicken. Which is what the House, the Senate and the Governor appear to be playing this Louisiana legislative session with the budget. In a recent interview with the political columnist for the Louisiana Weekly and radio talk show host, Tidmore and with JMC Polling and Analytics, John Couvillon, the lawmakers must somehow fill a still-gaping hole in which House Republicans have basically taken taxes off the table after passing a budget protecting the popular TOPS program while shortchanging the health care and higher education vital services.