Political parties are at a low ebb both in Louisiana and throughout the rest of the country. Public opinion often dips below 40% approval rating in numerous national and statewide polling. Voters continue to lose faith in how both Democrats and Republicans govern. When asked why people belong to a certain party, the negative views of the opposing party are often given. In other words, “I’m a Democrat because I can’t stand the "Republicans” and visa versa.
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.
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Twistlock CEO Ben Bernstein announced that the company will establish a Global Solutions Engineering Center in Baton Rouge. Twistlock is a cybersecurity firm, Twistlock will create 20 new direct jobs with an average salary of $90,000, plus benefits. Additionally, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 23 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 40 new jobs in Louisiana’s Capital Region.
Democrats and those wanting to halt the prospects of drastic cuts are on a full court press. Today, email boxes are flooded by organizations to say no to the Republican Louisiana House of Representative budget for next year. Below are a selection of some of the emails:
Medicaid expansion as an economic development driver for the State of Louisiana?
Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards and others promoted a study from LSU that argued that the Obamacare program not only served the lower-income workers but also helped the Louisiana economy. I asked Jan Moller about this study pushed by the governor when Jim Brown and i interviewed him last week.
In response to the Republican-controlled House Appropriations committee's decision to fully fund TOPS and not providing funding to other areas of state government, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the House Appropriations Committee’s decision "to make drastic cuts to higher education, health care, including partner hospitals and medical schools, and public safety"
Louisiana has good news, kinda.
The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference met today and recognized $346 million in revenues, most primarily due to the Republican-Trump tax cut leaving a difference in the budget shortfall of $647M which is obviously much better than the $997 million hole we were looking at prior to the regular session. That’s the good news.