John Bel Edwards And Louisiana’s Legislature Are Finding Out You Can’t Tax Your Way To Prosperity

A damn shame, this is.

Louisiana lawmakers are again preparing to pare back the state budget — this time by as much as $600 million, as legislators get an early glimpse of what agencies’ budgets may look like in the coming year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ chief budget architect on Tuesday warned House budget leaders to brace for a continued rocky financial outlook in the coming months.

“I think our (next) budget is not going to be any prettier than this year’s,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said. “Things are not good.”

A $313 million hit has already been identified as needing to be cut from the current budget next week because of a shortfall in the budget that ended in June. That figure could swell past $600 million by January, as Dardenne predicted an additional $300 million shortfall in the current year.

“Obviously, we know a problem is coming,” said House Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. “There’s no question about that.”

On Tuesday, state agency heads and Edwards’ administration began a series of early hearings before the House Appropriations Committee to discuss the state’s fiscal outlook at reductions already underway.

When you pass “$2 billion” in taxes and concurrently increase the size of government by a similar amount, you will inevitably find out that the economic damage your tax increases do will make your revenue projections inoperable. You won’t get the “$2 billion” you think you’ll get – you’ll get less.

And when you increase the size of government by x-amount, you’ll find there’s never quite enough money to pay for all the wonderful things you want it to do. Because government is terrible at cost control.

Quality leadership in such cases would involve making priorities and sticking to them even if there are costs involved. Your popularity might wane. You might lament the loss of your ability to pursue various utopian schemes you might prefer. And so forth. A good leader will put aside that which is not realistic and deal in actualities.

Edwards has been in office coming up on a year now, and he’s done little to indicate he understands these things. Next year’s legislative session will be marked by demands for even more taxes from a legislature which has no appetite for them. The question is whether the legislature is willing to lead in actually cutting government rather than just talking about it.

But we know the answer there. We know that there will be no effort to actually solve the problem of Louisiana’s runaway state government, or the massive giveaways it sends to local governments – even if the legislature were to debate and pass such ideas, Edwards would veto them. Instead, we will have three more years of deficits and stalemates about the state budget, which will lead, ultimately, to a failed term for Louisiana’s Democrat governor.

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