Geymann, who went into legislative cloister to summon the final product, announced the vision as a series of bills ready for pre-filing for the legislative session. The package includes a constitutional amendment to explicate in the budget produced by the governor items funded in the general fund using both discretionary and non-discretionary dollars under times of assumed reductions in spending on health care or higher education, separating them into two bills; expanding the function of the Revenue Estimating Conference to declare all funding sources as recurring or nonrecurring instead of only when surpluses are declared and then prohibit the use of nonrecurring funds for operating expenses; and increasing time for legislator review of the budget including a provision that gives each chamber time to review the others work and that the budget be passed no later than 16 days prior to the end of the session.
This could be done already by assent of the governor’s office, but to leave it no discretion a law could be passed dictating that. And the same goes for turning the Louisiana Legislative Auditor into an umpire determining when the two-bill process gets triggered (which requires an amendment because of the present constitutional imperative that states there is “submitted a general appropriations bill”). But even all of this isn’t necessary. Why not just pass a bill saying the budget must be presented with each line item broken into different components? Why go through creating this mechanism to declare two bills some years?
This creates the danger that posturing replaces substance, and little if any real beneficial change occurs, which always has been the Achilles’ heel of Geymann’s gang to date. Ensure there is no stricture that one-time money cannot be used at all or without some kind of supermajority, and these measures can’t make matters worse, although on esthetic grounds they need to be solutions in statute, not though amendment. Keep it in, and not only does it tighten the straitjacket smothering Louisiana fiscal policy-making, but it creates the bad temptation to declare the disease cured even as it continues to fester and grow as a debilitating menace.