Thursday, 24 May 2018 17:18

Senator Wesley Bishop concerned about lack of services due to Louisiana budget woes

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bishopThe 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. 

On Thursday morning, I discussed the budget with Senator Wesley Bishop of New Orleans via Facebook and Twitter Live. 

Bishop, a member of the black caucus, said that some legislators are not trying to compromise and said for the most part, many of them are House republicans.  

Below are excerpts of our conversation. To watch all of the interview, and how he responds to republican legislator's concerns, click on the video below; 

(Referring to Governor’s John Bel Edwards speech this Tuesday to open up the special session) He gave it on the campus University of Louisiana at Lafayette and most of, a sizeable  number of the members of the legislature went to Lafayette to hear that.  Part of the reason I believe that was done was really put a spotlight on many of the issues that we're facing.  If we don't come up with a budget that makes sense for the State of Louisiana higher education,  thus the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, other institutions around the state will in fact be affected. Hospitals will be affected, Medicaid will be affected, seniors will be affected, children will be affected, so i think all of that was spotlighted by having the address mobile actually in the community here in the State of Louisiana.  

(Referring to why the state is in the budget shortfall again this year) Two years ago actually we actually agreed to put in an additional one cent sales tax on and we would do it with temporary and we made the promise to the public that we would do it temporarily with the promise that we would then come out and do structural changes and structural reform to figure out way to solve our problems, one and for all.  A phrase that you hear in Baton Rouge a lot is what I call kicking the can down the road and all that simply means is that they have an obligation that's a reoccurring obligation but instead making the decisions to solve that particular problem, we simply come up with temporary fix and that doesn't attack the problem. So, that one cent that we had, if that one cent was then reduced to a quarter cent and made permanent or extended for some period of time that would allow us to actually come up with about two hundred twenty-one million dollars worth of revenue to try to patch many of the holes in Louisiana's budget. If that one cent was reduced to  even more so, one half a cent that would allow us to come up with about  four hundred and forty million dollars which would have put us in a much better in trying to move forward. So that was the conversation that actually took place  

But, the bigger concern is that none of that really solved the entire problem.  At that time we were looking at a 1 billion dollar deficit here in the state of Louisiana.  We've now got to the point where the revenue estimating committee has said that number is probably down to roughly right around six hundred and seventy give or take million dollars that we actually need.  So whether we come up with the two hundred twenty million dollars that we generated by a quarter cent for the four hundred forty million dollars by the half cent, that still puts us two hundred thirty million dollars in the hole.  And you can't cut your way out of two hundred thirty million dollars. So the reality is that, even if we use either one of those mechanism, we're still gonna have to raise more revenue to get the six thousand seventy million dollars that we actually need.  I think that's where the problem lies.




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