Not even 24 hours after the latest budget deal was enacted, John Fail Edwards was already releasing his budget outline for the upcoming regular session which begins in April. I’m sure you’re surprised, but it doesn’t contain any cuts in state spending or anything resembling fiscal responsibility.
Instead, the budget is set to be $29.7 billion and once again, hospitals and TOPS are set to be held hostage. It is a $1.4 billion increase from last year.
From The News Star:
“Obviously this is not the budget we want to present to you,” Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. “We think we have more needs.”
The governor’s budget is based on a $440 million projected shortfall in state revenue, but the actual budget would grow by at least $1.4 billion to about $29.7 billion under his plan, although all of the growth is from federal funds, mostly relating to health care.
“I think we’re lean as a state (government),” Dardenne said.
Not all agreed.
“I guess that depends on your definition of lean,” said House GOP caucus Chairman Lance Harris, R-Alexandria. “The proposed budget is more than $1 billion more than last year. Whether it’s federal or state, it’s still taxpayers’ money. Now is the time to start talking about cutting programs and dig into the weeds.”
As presented, the state’s popular scholarship program TOPS would be funded at 70 percent, the same amount funded this year.
“(TOPS) will be at the top of the list to be funded in the event new revenue is recognized,” Dardenne said.
What Dardenne is essentially saying is that TOPS will be fully funded, once the Legislature increases taxes. It’s the Washington Monument strategy where President Obama shut down the monument as a part of him shutting down the Federal government in order to get tax increases from Congressional Republicans. It’s a ploy to force ordinary people to feel the pain.
On top of that, John Fail Edwards knows that the families who use TOPS are by and large Republican voters. It’s a chance to make his political opponents feel the pain. It’s government by hostage taking.
House Republicans cannot make fiscal policy alone as Scott pointed out earlier today, but they can influence it. What Lance Harris and company need to do is draw up an alternative state budget and submit it to a vote. If John Fail Edwards wants a war, we should give him one.