The Republicans have a near super majority in the Louisiana Senate, but yet it is little different than a Democratic-controlled body. The Senate approved a budget that gives John Bel Edwards most of the cuts he’s looking for. Those are designed to hold popular programs such as TOPS hostage in order to force tax increases in the special session.
Not only that, but the Senate also stripped out the budget authority for the Attorney General that the House gave him.
From the Times-Picayune:
Services for the elderly and people with disabilities are just about the only things that are fully funded in the latest version of the Louisiana state budget.
Hospitals set up for the poor and uninsured, the TOPS scholarship program, prisons, public schools, public universities, medical schools, child welfare services and several other government services are still short money in the latest state financing plan.
The Senate Finance Committee said it simply couldn’t find a way to pay for all of the state’s priorities when Louisiana is short $600 million for the budget cycle that starts July 1. The committee moved forward the latest version of the state budget on Memorial Day (May 30), with a lot of reluctance.
“This budget was not acceptable to anybody,” said state Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, head of the finance committee, in an interview after the vote.
These cuts are placed on popular programs such as TOPS and healthcare in order to extort further tax increases from Louisiana taxpayers. This is the 21st century of Edwin Edwards threatening to turn off the dialysis machines at Charity Hospital if the Legislature didn’t approve tax hikes.
Ideally, we would have a Legislature that was willing to set budget priorities in order to truly fix Louisiana’s budget crisis. But instead we have the Louisiana Senate that might as well be run by Democrats and the Louisiana House that is perpetually spineless.
As Scott wrote yesterday, Republicans need to get their act together in this state. Donald Trump wasn’t the sole reason why I left the GOP. The uselessness of Republicans in this state also contributed to that.
What Louisiana needs is bold, conservative leadership and it may have to turn outside the Republican Party for that.