Editor’s Note: The following is a response by Rep. Alan Seabaugh to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who took issue with a Facebook post yesterday Seabaugh made and penned a guest column at the Shreveport Times attacking Seabaugh as a liar and a “bitter partisan.”
The Louisiana Legislature recently passed the state’s 2016–2017 operating budget. The instrument that ultimately passed both Houses of the legislature was almost identical to that originally submitted by the governor.
All work done by the House Appropriations Committee and all amendments made on the House floor were deleted by the Senate at the governors request. The governor’s budget was then sent back to the House and passed with only minor changes.
Since the moment of his election, Governor Edwards has talked about the states budget deficit and fiscal problems. Something that he has not told the people of Louisiana is that the budget that passed this week increases state spending by $2 billion over last year.
You read that number correctly.
When you consider that the budget passed last year fully funded TOPS, Higher Education, the medical schools, and the states hospitals without cuts in essential services, and that this year’s budget spends $2 billion more than last year, then ask yourself why the services are not funded this year.
The answer is simple. Governor Edwards deliberately pushed through a budget leaving these unfunded in an attempt to “blackmail” the legislature into raising even more taxes.
If you heard a legislator running for office use the line: “Louisiana does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” they were correct. Louisiana spends more per capita than any other state in the nation.
A state our size should have a budget of around $20 billion. This year’s state operating budget is almost $30 billion.
Yet Governor Edwards claims that it is not enough and that those of us who voted against tax increases are responsible and that the only solution is to raise taxes again (for the third time in the last 13 months).
If managed in a fiscally responsible manner, the amount of revenue currently generated by the state of Louisiana should lead to a massive budget surplus.
Why no surplus this year? The answer is simple. Governor Edwards and his allies in the legislature don’t want one.
They have crafted a budget which deliberately leaves vital and important areas under funded in an attempt to force legislators to raise additional revenue.
Last year, when running for reelection, I promised my constituents that I would oppose ALL tax increases. They reelected me with 71% of the vote and I have kept that promise. I will continue to keep that promise into the upcoming special session and I hope that my colleagues will join me.