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Edwards gambles reelection for history reversal

Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has gone all in with a last desperate stand to grow state government – and which might backfire to cost him any hope of reelection.

Near the conclusion of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature lawmakers passed a barebones budget that funded completely health care and elementary and secondary education, but left big cuts to some agencies through an across-the-board nearly 25 reduction from current spending levels. The Republican-controlled chambers then hoped in the following special session, currently meeting, to raise revenues and make supplemental appropriations to that.

But Edwards vetoed it. His goal all along has been to force the GOP majorities into, at the very least, making permanent tax hikes. Better, from his perspective, that these would hit incomes progressively and, best of all, rely more on corporate than individual incomes. He reinforced that in speaking to a pep rally just prior to the overtime session’s start, when he asked to renew as much as half of the expiring one cent sales tax, to remove some sales and incomes tax exemptions, and to raise income taxes on those who have large amount of federal income tax deductions.


Edwards ditches reform for politics as usual

In the end, the lure of a sensible, popular reform lost out to politics as usual as practiced by Louisiana governors.

At the beginning of the regular session just concluded, as part of his legislative package Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards included occupational licensing reform. It led to speculation that he might lead a move against unnecessary and onerous regulations that stifled business and professional development.

Louisiana has the nation’s worst record in that regard, particularly badly affecting lower-income jobs, which Republican state Rep. Julie Emerson wished to change with a raft of bills aiming to eliminate licensing requirements with no genuine basis for existence. A smattering of other bills, most notably HB 825 by GOP state Rep. Polly Thomas, hoped to do the same.


Kennedy vote fuels speculation of his future

That Republican Sen. John Kennedy reminded Louisianans of his populist tendencies presents another marker that he plans to challenge Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards next year.

Last week, the Senate narrowly voted to overrule the Federal Communications Commission’s rescinding of the so-called “net neutrality” rule. Imposed in 2015, that prohibited broadband providers from blocking content or charging differentially for its delivery, by reclassifying them as common carriers such as done with telephonic services.

The rule made for bad policy on a number of levels. Often shilled for as aiding consumers, it actually is anti-consumer in that it makes more difficult delivery of bandwidth-intense services. It removes complaints about broadband service from Federal Trade Commission jurisdiction, which has perfectly adequate tools to counter anti-competitive practices. It illogically classifies Internet service provision as a critical utility, and then stupidly singles out broadband as a monopoly, even though it must compete for Internet service with telephonic and satellite providers. Finally, contrary to claims that broadband providers would censor content, it makes no sense for them to do so because it diminishes the value of their product and what censoring has occurred comes from other sources.


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.