Search This Blog


GOP on the brink of preventing LA regression

The endgame has arrived, and Louisiana’s state Republicans have the advantage over Democrats and their leader Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Tuesday the Senate advanced HB 1, which contains almost $500 million fewer than Edwards wishes to spend. Today, it achieved House concurrence and goes to him for his signature. He hopes to add to those expenditures in a special session set to begin next week by engineering tax increases.

However, with passage of this budget Edwards has lost almost all of the leverage he has to grow state government permanently in the overtime session. This leaves him with a choice of vetoing that spending plan or not.

The Press-Herald column, May 16, 2018

The battle that never ends



Edwards pretends having control of budget

The only “pretend” associated with the Louisiana Senate moving a fiscal year 2019 budget to completion is the thought that Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has any significant control over the process.

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee dealt with, and passed out, HB 1 by state Rep. Cameron Henry. The state’s general appropriations budget for next year as it came from the House contained noteworthy cuts to a largely standstill budget, about two thirds coming from Medicaid programs and about a quarter from the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. These represented, respectively, about five and ten percent of each’s spending.

Edwards didn’t want to see any such action. All along, his strategy sought to pass no budget during the regular session, then in a special session increase taxes permanently mostly on income and weighed against corporations and write the budget according to that. If a budget emerges, he must sign it or else he becomes known as the guy who created chaos despite all his election promises to fix what he said ailed state government.


Posturing outrage distracts from real issues

He may be rude, crude, and boorish, but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely wrong.

State Rep. Kenny Havard made news yet again in a way perhaps he wished he hadn’t. A couple of years ago, he garnered infamy when his chamber considered a bill on sex trafficking with one provision raising the age limit for exotic dancing to 21. Supposedly as satire, he offered an amendment to raise this to 28 and to add a weight requirement.

This drew deserved approbation, but the reaction mattered more. It smacked of hypocrisy that legislators, led by a handful on the distaff side, would castigate him for implying the acceptability of objectifying women, yet politicians famously try to make themselves appear as attractive as possible precisely because that wins votes in an environment plagued with low information voters.


Aftermath of killing bill shows its necessity

Yesterday’s actions by the Louisiana Senate’s Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee demonstrate exactly why HB 122, which it axed, is needed.

The bill, by state Rep. Phillip DeVillier, would bar state money going to nongovernment entities; raise local government contributions for outlay dollars with some exceptions; shuttle more money for highway, bridge, flood control and flood prevention projects, or to economic development projects; and would allow the chambers’ money committees to vet the list of projects that go before the State Bond Commission. Advocates noted that the current process prompted stuffing the list of projects beyond borrowing capacity, leaving it up to the SBC to pick and choose, over which the governor’s office held the most sway.

Thus, the bill had the salutary aspects of encouraging local governments to budget more responsibly for things they have fobbed off on taxpayers statewide, preventing the playing of favorites in dispensing taxpayer money to private interests, discouraging the fomenting of fictitious promises to build things from oversubscribed project lists, and reducing the politics of the process that enables outsized influence by a handful of individuals. So, naturally, the Democrat-majority committee killed it.


Democrats unlikely to go Trojan Horse for SOS

The upcoming special election for Louisiana Secretary of State puts the state’s Democrats in an awkward position, yet again. Yet this time doesn’t seem right to try for the half a loaf.

With former officeholder Tom Schedler resigning over alleged personnel improprieties earlier this month, the post has become vacant. The Constitution requires an election later this year to fill out a little more than a year of the term.

My Advocate colleague Mark Ballard writes that he knows of around 20 people expressing interest in the job. That it is an open statewide seat and occurs in an election cycle when almost all state offices and many local ones do not also have elections to determine their occupants will stimulate competition. With many not having to risk their current positions perhaps a dozen potentially viable candidates therefore may declare for it.


Unemployed Landrieu situated for next campaign

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu finally has no political office to hold for the first time in three decades. Look for him to want to change that as soon as possible.

It all begins with a run for president in 2020, now that today he turned over the reins of city government. Keep in mind that Landrieu has worked outside of government for just a few years, right out of law school, and knows nothing else but politics, especially growing up in the household of a former legislator, mayor, U.S. Cabinet member, and state judge.

Running as a Democrat, he must take this first step to add to his credentials for successive jobs in politics. He can’t win any statewide office because of his largely undiluted leftism and, outside of a judgeship which doesn’t seem to interest him, he can’t win any New Orleans-based post because he doesn’t identify as black (although the 1900 census lists his grandfather as black, and the 1880 census lists his great-grandmother, also notated as black on the same 1900 document, as mulatto.)