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Ideologues put fakery ahead of protecting kids

Known more for being behind the curve, it’s refreshing to see something showing Louisiana ahead of it, providing a lesson on how to deal with current controversies.

That happened earlier this week as a result of hearings on Capitol Hill. The Senate Judiciary Committee, controlled by Democrats, decided to hold a hearing entitled “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans,” which promoted giving privileged position to a small minority at the expense generally of women and children.

It backfired when it came to a discussion about the relative physical capabilities of biological males who assert they are “female” or who have made a medical transition through drugs and/or surgery to take on some female biological aspects, relative to natal females in sports competitions. Republican Sen. John Kennedy had an interest group leader, clearly in over her head, claim that perhaps the greatest, perhaps aside from her sister Venus, female tennis player of all time Serena Williams routinely could defeat typical male professionals.


Plenty of good options to keep $100 million cut

All the fretting about a $100 million last-minute reduction that only increases Louisiana Department of Health spending by $146 million for next fiscal year, as Republican state Sen. Sharon Hewitt suggests, is unwarranted and no corrective should be in the offing.

This week, a couple of Senate panels met unanticipatedly in the aftermath of the regular session’s close to sort out the line item in the general appropriations bill HB 1 triggering this, an insertion which caught by surprise legislators and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. The latter warbled about how he would do everything he could, including casting a line item veto on it, to prevent the roughly half-percent decrease it pared, while a number of state senators listened with furrowed brows as allegedly how, when considering leveraged federal funds involved, this really meant an over $700 million loss in budget authority.

Of course, that figure was scare tactics reminiscent of what Edwards threatened would happen in 2016 when trying to muscle through a sales tax increase still haunting the state, that without taking more from the citizenry people with disabilities would be left to beg on street corners, grandparents would be kicked out of nursing homes, and, by the way, college football would cease. Unfortunately, many, including Republicans who should have known better, bought it hook, line, and sinker, then and now.


House leaders part of problem, not solution

When under pressure, people revert to their true natures. And insofar as political leadership goes, in the final session of the 2020-24 term of the Louisiana what we saw from the Legislature leadership was ugly, hopefully the last gasp of a mentality that has left Louisiana in tatters.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Pro Tem Tanner Magee have come under much fire for their handling of the session. It all crystallized in the last week of the session, when they muscled through a resolution allowing state government to spend, as opposed to banking, about 10 percent more of transitory revenue generation, and in the final half-hour of the session, when most of the spending bills were presented for members’ approval with hardly any of them knowing any details about what they were asked on which to vote.

This failure of leadership occurred at two levels, beginning with their unwise squandering of dollars ahead of a bleaker revenue picture. The Revenue Estimating Conference foresees fiscal year taxes, licenses, and fees falling from $15.277 billion in fiscal year 2024 to $15.103 billion in FY 2025, $14.666 billion in FY 2026, then a bump upwards to $14.936 billion in FY 2027 – a drop of over a billion bucks from FY 2023 just wrapping up. Given that new commitments (at least in intention) of around $320 million annually were doled out for education alone starting in 2024, maintaining this total level of spending will be difficult.


Legislators may thwart Edwards’ pettiness

Perhaps more than illuminating his mean-spiritedness, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ swipe at the Bossier Four demonstrates again the sanctimony that has undergirded his time in elective office — although they yet may prevail.

The Bossier Four — Republican state Reps. Raymond CrewsDodie HortonDanny McCormick, and Alan Seabaugh — along with 15 others in the Louisiana Legislature’s lower chamber voted against busting the state’s spending cap. They reasoned that excess dollars should go towards unfunded accrued liabilities and topping off state savings accounts, which not only would free up state and local dollars towards education that could be used for pay raises but also would trigger individual income tax reductions, all the while avoiding new commitments that would threaten fiscal stability when the 2016/2018 sales tax increases expire at the end of fiscal year 2025 and the tapering of Washington Democrats’ debt-fueled spending binge that boosted state coffers, changes which are pegged to bring in $1.5 billion fewer annually after three years.


Instead, egged on by Edwards, legislators opted to blow a significant portion of the excess collected from the people on new ongoing commitments of questionable affordability and much of the rest on capital items. These four saw their districts hardly share in that, first because Edwards-backed GOP Speaker Clay Schexnayder and his leadership team headed by Republican state Rep. Tanner Magee made sure several items initially placed in the capital outlay bill concerning the Four’s districts were removed after they voted against the breach.