It’s now clear: Louisiana Democrats don’t want
fiscal reform because it reduces their chances of propping up big government.
For years, policy-makers have lamented the
straitjacketed nature of the state’s fiscal system. With nearly 400 different constitutional
and statutory dedications, relatively little in the way of discretionary
revenues exists. That makes the areas of health care, higher education, and
corrections rely heavily on these dollars and unprotected when general income,
sales, or excise tax revenue falls, thus disproportionately making that kind of
spending vulnerable to cuts.
While a small number of dedications channel a
large chunk of nondiscretionary bucks – perhaps the Minimum Foundation Program
serving as the best example, creating the single largest expense in state
government at around $3 billion
– the many smaller ones do add up to hundreds of millions of dollars. And among
these, no objective observer would dare to argue that a handful of them at best
should have greater priority over those three larger concerns.