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Divided LA govt budgetary impasse not an option

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.


Without agenda change, Democrats only dreaming

For Christmas, Louisiana Democrats may have wished for more partisan success, but instead of that present in the new year they will more likely get a lump of coal.

This year saw them break a seven-year drought in winning any statewide (including Electoral College) election and now, with sugar plums dancing in their heads, they dare dream of more. If their behavior stays the same, reality should turn out differently.

Even they admit it took fortuitous circumstances to have Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards triumph, and that they could not win anything else – or emerge victorious in grand total of just four statewide elections out of the last 30 since 2003 – underscores the large element of chance involved. Some of it they can control, by finding candidates like Edwards who can pretend conservatism on enough issues and also like him who can tap into the eroding populist sentiments of the state’s political culture.


The Advocate column, Dec. 28. 2015

How Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards could be a Grinch when it comes to school vouchers