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Session shows gulf between parties' attitudes about your money

All one needs to know about the differences between Democrats and Republicans in Louisiana is to review what happened in the final hour of the recently-concluded special session of the Legislature.

HB 59, having passed the House, was brought up in the Senate. Originally, the bill was provide a child tax credit although Democrats had shot down a Republican attempt by state Rep. John LaBruzzo to make the credit apply only to heads of households who actually paid taxes. Therefore, since the bill also had the purpose of redistributing wealth from producers of it to consumers of it, Democrats favored it.

But then state Sen. Robert Adley (ironically, a Democrat) got an amendment added in committee that swung the bill back into a posture of mainly providing assistance to taxpayers, that would restore many popular tax deductions presently applicable to federal income taxes but which were taken away three years ago from state income taxes. These were measures that Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Democrats had favored and had introduced into the House earlier in the session.

State Sen. Diana Bajoie, one of the Democrat leaders, complained how those who earned more (i.e., made a greater contribution to government through their work and to society as a whole) would get more back as a result of these deductions and that what the Senate really should be doing was spending money on pay raises for some public servants. Adley reminded her that passage of these deductions would constitute a kind of pay raise not just for government employees, but for many people across the state. Democrats were unsuccessful in detaching Adley’s amendment in the Senate version.

Bajoie had referred to House Republicans preventing any attempt to allow the state to spend beyond its Constitutional cap. Out of spite, Blanco declared that unless more money got spent, those tax deduction restorations would not get restored, and so even though they were now tacked onto a bill that accomplished a Democrat goal, wealth redistribution, she and her party decided to do whatever they could to prevent it.

Their political problem was it would look bad to vote it down or to have Blanco veto it. So, they devised a strategy to let it out of the Senate, where it passed easily (allowing some Senate Democrats to look good), wait for the Senate to adjourn permanently and then adjourn the House before it could be brought to a vote, thereby killing it. It was no accident that Democrat Caucus leader state Rep. Eric LaFleur was the one who made the motion to adjourn, and, with a majority in the House, the Democrats muscled that through 49-42 over Republican protests.

So let’s summarize: Democrats priorities in the session were to spend taxpayers’ money and (as part of that) to redistribute wealth without any kind of reduction of present state spending, while Republican priorities were to give government reduced ability to put its hands into peoples’ wallets and not to have any additional spending. Republicans were perfectly willing to allow spending on things like those pay raises, or to reduce debt, or to reduce unfunded accrued liabilities in pension funds by cutting spending elsewhere, but Democrats were unwilling to spend a cent less than the present level, and so thus their intransigence to being flexible, because they valued spending the people’s money so much more than returning it to them, caused this standoff.

Any question as to why the 2007 elections need to usher out Democrat majorities in the Legislature and a Democrat from the Governor’s Mansion?

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