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Black Caucus puts politics ahead of practicality

Let’s be honest about why the Legislative Black Caucus has filed suit against Gov. Kathleen Blanco: it’s not about the Constitution, as some like Sen. Cleo Fields, the group’s lawyer say (how many cases has he tried, being a professional politician since age 23?). It’s that they don’t like the idea of government growing smaller, taking fewer resources from the majority of people, and redistributing those resources to a small group of people who overwhelmingly vote for, in large part, members of the caucus.

Blanco made cuts up to 10 percent in some areas as appeared to be permitted by the language of 2005’s operating budget bill (HB1, Act 16). Traditionally, anything outside of just a very few areas that was more than 5 percent had to garner to approval of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

By acting unilaterally, Blanco could immediately cut these budgets. Further, the Legislature has the option of ratifying these cuts, so the whole point could be moot. This suit is quixotic and detracts from getting on with the business of doing what’s necessary to puts the state’s fiscal house in order.

But it does serve one purpose: to highlight how the Legislature consistently hands over, and apparently has for years, power to the governor in this and other areas. Constitutionally, the Louisiana governor doesn’t have a lot of power. What greater power she has is due to the Legislature’s willingness to hand it over. This provision in the 2005 budget bill is a perfect example: how many who voted on it really knew what it meant, or even knew it was in there?

Blanco ally Sen. Francis Heitmeier, who is chairman of the committee that deals with the bill, summed it up when he said in next year's budget bill the Legislature simply should excise this provision. If the Legislature finally will start standing up for itself, this would be then place to start – in the 2006 regular session. This is the proper response to reconcile a political dispute between branches of government, rather than bring yet another branch to try to accomplish the stealth agenda of a group whose views on the matter are outside of the majority.

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