by Tom Aswell, Publisher of the Louisiana Voice
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.
For the second year in a row, Louisiana has ranked last in the U.S. News and World Report state ranking. It is a poor ranking that is very well deserved.
The study focused on 77 different areas in eight major categories, such as crime. Unfortunately, in this area, Louisiana does not compare very favorably. Our state is a very violent one with the highest incarceration rate in the nation. Last year, a criminal justice reform package was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards. The ostensible reason for the legislation was to reduce the incarceration rate. Thus, 1900 “non-violent” offenders were released in November of 2017. Not surprisingly in the span of a few weeks, 76 of these prisoners were arrested again. Their victims would not have been targeted if these criminals were kept in prison.
Is Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards ready to be a hero? Is he willing and ready to take the reins, be a leader, pull a “Nixon goes to China” and get the Louisiana budget on a secure and stable process?
These are the basic thrusts of the comments articulated by Rob Maness earlier this morning as he discussed with me, the Louisiana legislative session via Facebook and Twitter Live.
On Monday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards addressed the legislature and the state in opening another special session to try to plug a fiscal hole.
Today, Bayoubuzz launched its first segment of its daily, twice per day segment discussing the legislative session, "Bayoubuzz Live: Louisiana Legislature", streamed to Facebook and Twitter.
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.