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Browbeaten Blanco needs to make right call on call

Naturally, after I advocated a call for a special session of the Louisiana Legislature, Gov. Kathleen Blanco caved in and said she’ll now call one … actually, maybe it had something more to do with legislative Republicans mounting a serious effort to call the Legislature into session – a troubling concession by Blanco, demonstrating her weakened position as governor.

It’s the right idea, but neither the GOP nor Blanco has it correct. The former want it in November for 15 days to go over home insurance issues and a redo of state recovery authority and funding. That’s too much time, not at the right time, and not all the right stuff. It really needs to wait for the Revenue Estimating Conference to officially declare a surplus and in what areas, which is a month later. Further, with that much time to make preparations, the session should be much shorter to save taxpayers money. And, it needs to include the potentially bigger issue of spiraling commercial insurance costs which threaten to stunt any nascent recovery.

Blanco wants to wait, but perhaps too long for the solution of the state picking up part of the tab on the extra insurance assessment being made on homeowners to refund the state-owned insurer of last resort, pummeled with losses from the hurricane disasters of last year. But she has to include the commercial angle as well, else there’s no real need for a special session given other policy options.

Again, concoct solutions, wait for hard numbers, then dash in on Dec. 18 and dash out by Dec. 22. Follow the agenda outlined above, and for once we may actually get our money’s worth out of a special session.

Still, Republicans have beaten Blanco again. She never would have intended to call a special session without their pressure. Further, does anybody seriously believe she’s delaying the call just in case some companies locate operations in Louisiana? Firms know that if they negotiate a special deal, since it will be months before they start operating, that they can wait until the regular session to have them enacted into law. With this logic, we’d be having special sessions all the time – if, of course, Blanco had attracted more than a relative handful of jobs over her almost-three years as the state’s economic-recruiter-in-chief.

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