Today, Governor John Bel Edwards sent Commissioner of Administration Jay “Ephialtes” Dardenne up to the capitol. Dardenne formally asked the Senate to eliminate the budget changes agreed to by the House.
From WWL radio:
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance Committee on Friday he’d like the panel to strip the House changes “in their entirety.”
He asked senators to “consider starting over.”
Senators are planning Monday to rework the budget proposal for the financial year that begins July 1.
Dardenne says the House version improperly diverts fees that people pay for services away from agencies providing those services. He says it also levies heavy cuts on programs that care for the elderly and disabled.
If senators use the Edwards proposal, the TOPS college tuition program would face steeper cuts than the House recommended.
The plan here is simple. Edwards and Dardenne want to make it easier to call a special session and raise taxes this summer.
What is the best way to raise taxes? Hold a popular program hostage and threaten deep cuts if you don’t get your tax increases. There is no state program that is more popular than TOPS. Theoretically, every Louisiana student can benefit from the program, as long as they meet the ACT and GPA requirements.
The universities love it because it keep Louisiana students in state. That usually means more money for the universities and makes them less reliant on funding from the general fund.
It also makes higher education better in Louisiana because it forces the public universities to compete with each other over students.
Now in order to make sure TOPS is fully funded and/or to prevent Democrats from trying to turn it into a welfare program, Edwards will force Republicans to raise taxes. This is the 21st century version of Edwin Edwards threatening to turn off the dialysis machines at Charity Hospital if taxes weren’t raised.
Although this is probably wishful thinking, the Senate should tell Edwards and Ephialtes to go to hell and approve the budget as submitted by the House. Perhaps the Senate should consider cutting the budget further.
Louisiana citizens and businesses are being taxed enough. The last thing we need are more taxes from Baton Rouge to fund wealth redistribution schemes.