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Montgomery set to hand Blanco victory over his party

Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco looks ready to reverse her loss of months ago to Republicans to increase dramatically state spending – thanks to Republican (in name only) state Rep. Billy Montgomery and if she can get an all-points-bulletin out for Democrat state Rep. Romo Romero.
HB 3 is the enabling legislation to sell bonds to continue capital outlay funding in HB 2, but to pass requires a two-thirds vote of the seated membership of each Louisiana Legislature chamber. Last week, enough Republicans got together to prevent attaining those 70 votes, saying they would keep the bill from passing until Blanco and her Democrat leadership refrained from ramming through a portion of over a billion dollars in recurring spending increases in favor of increasing the relative pittance of tax cuts offered by the Democrats. The GOP is asking for a shift of about $350 million away from spending and into the people’s pockets.

Last December, a different, procedural move enabled Republicans to stop a similar move by Blanco. As the months progressed, their warnings about the cooling budget picture proved true making it prudent for the state to make minimal new commitments. But, true to their roots, the free-spending Democrats ignored the data and pressed on, forcing Republicans into a repeat attempt to slow the spending train down.

Given their current numbers, the GOP could not afford more than seven defections. But given that there are a few liberals among those elected as Republicans, and a few more who were elected initially as Democrats who switched to the GOP out of political opportunism, there remained plenty of opportunities for Democrats to pick off enough of these RINOs.

Last week’s vote showed the Democrats were close. Theoretically, they were two short when assuming those seven who were absent would vote by party. Two of the three Republicans violated that, meaning no further defections could be tolerated.

But in yesterday’s vote, as I predicted opportunist Montgomery flipped his vote (three Republicans were absent but that is like a negative vote so it did not harm their position). That would have given the Democrats 70 votes – except that Romero missed the vote, temporarily saving the House GOP’s effort to cut taxes and spending, buying it a little more time to bargain.

However, with Montgomery, who is running for the Senate in the fall being term-limited out of the House, now off the reservation, if Blanco can get all of their supporters to show up, Montgomery will earn a dubious distinction. His was the crucial vote to increase net taxes across the state in 2002, and now likely his will be the crucial vote that prevents meaningful tax cuts – something Senate District 37 voters should keep in mind as they head to the polls this fall.

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