As the year closes and with Louisiana preparing to embark upon divided government for the first time in several years (and a dozen since a governor of one party opposed a legislature firmly in the hands of another), could the tumult in Illinois and Pennsylvania serve as a forecast for what may come with next year’s budget?
For half a year now, both of those states, whose fiscal year begins like Louisiana’s on Jul. 1, have operated without a budget. Pennsylvania’s Republican-led legislature just sent one to its Democrat governor who item-vetoed a decent-sized chunk of it, while Illinois’ legislature led by Democrats haven’t tried in the face of veto threats from its Republican governor.
But it is unlikely that these events will replicate in Louisiana starting this summer, largely because of constitutional and legal differences among the three states. Pennsylvania actually has measures legally in place, as its Constitution does not restrict the time limit of appropriations, to tide over the state in such circumstances, as has commonly happened over the last decade. Nor does Illinois have such a time restriction in its and it also allows short-term borrowing to cover a portion of state expenditures. Keep in mind as well that both have full-time legislatures who can work on this matter every day while Louisiana like most states has only a part-time legislature that must meet in extraordinary (special) or emergency (a stretch for this purpose) session to deal with any unfinished (or unanticipated) business.