Calamitous special session ensures continued chaos, mediocrity

By Robert Mann

Now that former Gov. Bobby Jindal is gone and, with him, his lust for slashing university budgets, many assumed state lawmakers and a new governor might begin reinvesting in our state’s most valuable resource – its young people. How wrong they were.

In the messy three-week special session that ended Wednesday, lawmakers left behind a $50 million hole in the current year’s budget and an $800 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning in July. The Republican-led House proved inept at handling the state’s fiscal affairs. More precisely, too many members were afraid to defy business lobbyists to fund adequately health care and the state’s universities.

For those looking for good news from this session, there is little. In particular, this is probably the best higher education can expect from the state, at least in the next four years.

Last year, Gov. John Bel Edwards campaigned on the promise to reinvest in higher education. Specifically, he wanted to move university budgets towards a 50-50 ratio of state appropriations to self-generated revenue. (Universities now get about a third of their funding directly from the state, down from more than 50 percent when Jindal became governor.)

It’s clear that Edwards might as well have promised every child a pony. Edwards is not to blame for lawmakers’ failure. Unlike the House GOP, he had a reasonable plan to put the state on sound fiscal footing.

In another special session later this year, there’s the slight chance that legislators might curtail further the overly generous tax exemptions and credits it showered on business in the past decade, although lawmakers seem determined to keep studying that issue, not take action. Because the legislative session that begins on Monday is not a fiscal session, they cannot pass any new tax increases until June.

Maybe lawmakers will summon some courage by summer and enact additional revenue in another special session. The price of oil might rocket to $100 a barrel.

OK, that’s enough dreaming. What is the likelihood that the average Republican legislator will feel any more courageous by summer or next year, one year closer to re-election? As for oil, it’s reckless to tie higher education and health care to the fluctuations of a volatile world commodity like oil.

So, where does that leave us? With chronically underfunded universities and thousands of sick and disabled residents, many of whom can’t be certain their critical needs will be addressed.

Top faculty will continue their exodus. As state funding declines and tuition and fees rise, universities like Alabama and Ole Miss will appear more attractive to Louisiana high school graduates. Like me, you probably know high school students who are considering colleges in other states. Given recent events, they should.

Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Bobby Jindal, John Bel Edwards, Louisiana budget, Louisiana higher education, Louisiana Politics, LSU and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Calamitous special session ensures continued chaos, mediocrity

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    Abysmal, but expected.

    There are literally thousands of options for solving the budget problem. Why not pick 8 or 10 of them and go with a relatively simple plan that people can understand and that would give us the stability we so desperately need?

    Answer: The lack of ability and courage to effectively present such a plan and then see it through. Is there a single plan everybody will like? Of course not. Do we have to bend to the will of special interests in everything we do? Not if we ever want to get anywhere.

    The special session essentially accomplished NOTHING. A bunch of over-complicated gobbledygook, much of which is temporary and/or regressive.

    Now, how did we get into this situation, again? You got it – by building rickety bridges to nowhere like this one.

    Look at how your legislator is performing and praise him/her if s/he is one of the few with a sincere interest in fixing the problem, but spank him/her hard if s/he’s not.

    We have to get off square one or remain at the bottom of everything forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fredster says:

      Well Stephen, the special session did allow the members of the lege to collect their per diem payments. Although for all that they accomplished (snark) they should be docked the payments and give ’em back.

      Kevin Litten at nola.com wrote an article that lists the bills in the session and how they came out and also shows the yeas and nays on the bills. You click on the links and a handy-dandy .pdf document downloads with the voting results. Look at those results and see how your individual House member or Senator voted. Print them out and keep them in a folder with their votes circled. When reelection time rolls around again and that house member comes knocking at your door, show him or her the folder and circled votes and let them know if you’ll be voting to send them back to Baton Rouge or not.

      Here’s the link:

      http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/key_tax_votes_legislature.html

      Like

  2. martybankson says:

    To describe it, borrow the title of a book by Sheldon Wolin:
    Democracy Inc.

    Like

  3. Lorraine Economides says:

    Could you please provide names of the 20 representatives who formed the tax bloc?

    Like

  4. Louis Sparks says:

    Looks like Republicans and Democrats are playing tag team against Louisiana citizens.

    Why is it that the new Dem governor did not roll back the Jindal tax giveaways to large corporations and support the citizens for a change instead of finding ways to suck citizen’s blood.

    Like

    • earthmother says:

      Louis – the governor cannot levy or roll back taxes. The legislature controls taxation. Only the legislature can tax or roll back – the governor can only make suggestions.

      Like

  5. Louis Sparks says:

    Informative article at motherjones.com entitled:

    Bobby Jindal’s Disaster in Louisiana Shows Why You Shouldn’t Bet on Fossil Fuels

    Article describes deplorable situation Jindal left Louisiana in while trying to ingratiate himself with Republican Corporate-Fascists.

    Link is http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/03/louisiana-fossil-fuels-bobby-jindal-tax-cuts-budget-crisis.

    Looks like incompetent Democrats are doing little to alleviate the situation.

    Like

  6. earthmother says:

    Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. LABI-enslaved legislators have apparently forgotten about Huey Long. (Not to mention the French revolution, Russian revolution, Chinese communist takeover, etc., which were violent affairs that accomplished the same thing, for the same reasons, as Huey Long’s Louisiana revolution, but those things are found in history books. Which as we now know, are not valued by our legislators because they fall under the heading of education. Liberal arts, at that.)

    But I digress. Remember what Huey Long did, and why? He took on big business (specifically oil interests) that was preying on citizens and a system that kept people poor and uneducated. From that movement came better public education, the charity healthcare system, better roads, etc., all being threatened by the past eight years of crippling cuts to services and corporate welfare. Reading people’s reaction to what took place in the special session leads one to think that the stage has been set for another Long-type movement. People in this ruby red state already voted for a Democrat governor in disgust after eight years of jindal’s conservative income transfer to business and the wealthy (who are always screaming about liberal income redistribution policies. Uh huh.).

    Fortunately, revolution in this country is achieved at the ballot box, not through violence. When business-owned legislators are overthrown and replaced, LABI will have no one to blame but itself. Business and the citizens should have a symbiotic relationship as both need each other to survive. When the powerful business lobby has its foot on the throat of the people, at some point the people will rise up and shake off the tormentor.

    We are at a crossroads in Louisiana and must decide if we will be ruled by corporate interests or come out of this as a state that provides an opportunity for all citizens to enjoy a decent quality of life. Why are so many of our young people moving to states like Colorado? (It’s not for the legalized weed.) Why are other states moving forward with healthy economies while we slide further into the Third World swamp? How long are we going to allow ourselves to be enslaved to business? Huey Long’s ghost is alive and well and LABI should remember from history that revolutions do happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephen Winham says:

      Warren Buffet is the only wealthy person I have ever say anything like what you are saying, earthmother (except Donald Trump who only glances it and clearly lacks the ability to speak honestly, deeply, or sincerely about anything).

      Other states and even some long-established businesses take the long view, but many in the newly wealthy class look only at making as much money as quickly as possible and holding on to the bulk of it as long as possible. History and the realities of the economic cycle are ignored.

      Once the working class can no longer afford to buy goods and services beyond absolute necessities, on whom are the wealthy going to depend for other commerce? Each other?

      You don’t have to think too deeply to see where this leads, but many of our elected officials, like the newly-rich, seem too short-sighted to even consider it. The concept of the common good has gotten lost in the fog of greed and self-interests.

      I know I sound like Bernie, and I can see his limitations, but we would all be better off if more of us at least thought about some of the things he says.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fredster says:

    Hey ya’ll: Please see my comment above with the link to the nola.com article and check the article out. Check out how your representatives voted and keep that information handy. Use it when your local House member comes around asking for your vote.

    Like

  8. Stephen Winham says:

    Noting today’s ADVOCATE:

    http://theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/15159608-123/budget-cuts-remain-unclear-as-leaders-calculate-shortfall

    Two simple questions:

    Was it unrealistic to expect that JBE would have and present an actual plan?
    Given the excellent work done by the LFO and other legislative fiscal staffs, was it unrealistic to expect at least one legislator could have had a plan?

    Obviously, the answer to both questions is “YES.”

    Clearly, somebody has to take a leadership position here – Someone who will stop looking for pennies under the sofa cushions to get us by a few months or even years and enact something that we can reasonably hope will bring us stability. If not, there is no hope.

    Like

    • Fredster says:

      It’s obvious that anything that will stabilize the budget long term is going to have to include additional revenues, i.e. taxes. Did anyone on the Republican side in the House seem willing to offer up any ideas on that other than adding an additional penny to the sales tax? I don’t seem to recall any of them doing so.

      Like

    • Fredster says:

      Given the excellent work done by the LFO and other legislative fiscal staffs, was it unrealistic to expect at least one legislator could have had a plan?

      The work they did may have indeed been excellent but then members of the House didn’t seem to want to believe the numbers that the LFO gave them.

      http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/02/louisiana_house_challenges_fis.html

      But at the meeting Friday morning, Abramson and one other House member also implied the state economists — who are supposed to provide nonpartisan analysis — could be manipulating numbers because of politics.

      “Sometimes members may feel that there is pressure to have these notes either be high or low based on who’s on the fourth floor,” said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. “And at the end of the day, we need to make sure the numbers are accurate.”

      Honestly, how do you fix that kind of stupid?

      Like

  9. Trey McNabb says:

    A great example of how our government does not work for its citizens but works oh so well for groups like LABI.

    Like

Comments are closed.