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Guilty legislators complain about products of their sins

Maybe it’s a peculiar disease that strikes those who spend too much time in Huey Long’s monument to himself that explains why if you keep a legislator in the state capitol long enough, he turns into a stark, raving hypocrite.

Two of the most seriously afflicted, state Sens. Robert Adley and John Alario, recently whined and moaned about how Louisiana will continue to face budgetary difficulties. Within the past two years, several rounds of budget cutting (including the formal budget process of this year) have occurred with at least another to follow barring miraculous appearance of revenues.

Implying there was a lot of stupidity along the way, Alario said the “dumbest” thing done was to set up temporary taxes to deal debt borrowed for operating expenses. Adley lamented that several opportunities were missed to restructure things. Never mind, of course, that through some of this time Adley and especially Alario have headed money committees in the Legislature and through leadership in those positions could have taken fiscal policy in the body in a different direction.
Also conveniently forgotten by them is they are two of the biggest pigs at the money trough trying to redirect state taxpayer funds to their districts. As examples, just recently, Adley bleated about how it was so unfair that Gov. Bobby Jindal struck out with his line item veto state tax dollars going to buy local police cars, among other things, in his district, while, a few years ago, Alario steered through the Legislature measures to treat preferentially a failing golf course in his district that was part of a state subsidy then costing state taxpayers million every year. If they were serious about state spending, they would not behave like this.

Both also have been culpable in squandering the huge disaster-recovery surpluses since 2005. When in 2007 this dynamic produced a huge surplus, instead of keeping state government at that downsized level, they helped lead the charge to restore thousands of jobs, increase spending on health care without necessary reforms for efficiency’s sake, threw money at elementary and secondary education without accountability that also would have increased efficiency, and larded up capital spending (with plenty of local projects for them, of course). And, historically, both also betray their spend-first mentality by referring to revenue increases into state governments below current rates as a “cut” in spending.

More examples of their thirst to spend other peoples’ money first: Adley also was eager to put the state on the hook for hundreds of millions of more dollars of spending when he criticized Jindal’s refusal to accept certain grant funds from the federal government precisely because it would have created an additional state commitment Jindal thought best to avoid. Using a different method by which to express his lack of seriousness in spending restraint, Alario authored the bill that ended up restricting the amount of money that could be put into the Budget Stabilization Fund, forcing money past four percent of revenues to be spent. And many such more instances exist, but you get the picture.

Even their presumed solutions to deal with the problem lack credibility. Alario suggests cutting the state work force, despite his tenures as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee or as House Speaker where over two decades he did nothing to cut the state’s bloated bureaucracy which gives it one of the highest state employees per capita figures in the country. Adley says to consolidate graduate programs in higher education to produce immediate savings, blissfully unaware that, given constraints in personnel practices, presumably any faculty member let go would still be paid for a year and the programs are required to stay in existence until there are no longer any students already admitted into their programs, producing almost no immediate savings.

It’s public servants like this that got the state into fiscal trouble in the first place. Having them now complain about how things got this way, when they and their ilk are the ones who caused this situation and appear to take no responsibility for their actions nor seem willing to change their ways, makes people knowledgeable about Louisiana politics want to reach for an air sick bag.

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