So the governor has demanded that Speaker Barras and the House come up with a plan to avert the fiscal cliff. Pretty good political theater I will say.
Not-so-amazingly the governor seems to assume that the Senate will be willing to go along with anything that the Administration asks of it. I guess there is history in that but under our system of government the Senate is supposed to be, with the House, a co-equal branch of government. Even though revenue and spending measures originate in the House, theoretically anyway, the Senate is supposed to have a say. It just goes to show how little the governor respects the independence of the Senate that he didn’t even send the same letter to it.
That being said the media, either because they just didn’t want to do the research or because of their desire to please the governor, failed to report a very important fact derived from very recent history. During the last, seemingly never-ending, sessions the House proposed that we reduce spending by 1.5% or about $200 million. The media, who appear to be seated in the orchestra pit of this Theater of the Absurd we all currently occupy, reported only that the underlying reason to reduce spending was that there is a great concern about a mid-term cut being foisted on government as a result of the governor’s insistence to spend every penny of recognized funds.
In fact a more important, though not widely reported, effect of the House’s proposal was that this small reduction would begin to soften the impact of the universally acknowledged fiscal cliff. It is more than likely the reason why the governor insisted on spending everything, even trying to convince the legislature to actually spend $441 million more, was so that the state would not approach the fiscal cliff with a budget reduction. A reduction in spending wouldn’t fit his drive to raise revenues in order to feed ever growing government. So though not reported, the House already had made an effort to address the fiscal cliff, just not one that fit the governor’s plans.
According to published data, at the end of the Jindal years (2014-15) our state budget was as low as $22.6 billion. In the few short years under our new governor it is now at about $29 billion. Worse perhaps, our state effort (the actual money raised in our state from our citizens and companies) has risen in the years from 2014-15 to now by $5.1 billion. People, that means we have increased taxes, fees, and other forms of taking your money by $5 billion, mostly under this governor. Amazingly he wants more and more. Please note that I am not including Federal funds in this, discussion, only your state money (even though Federal funds are yours also!). The price for your ticket to this theater is starting get fairly steep, wouldn’t you agree?
I guess if we experienced very much better services then I would not complain as much. Sadly, outside of the governor’s passion to feed the voracious appetite of healthcare, most other state initiatives are actually declining in performance. With such massive increases in spending I cannot understand why we are not seeing better universities, better roads, better flood protection, better everything else that the state is supposed to do.
But in Baton Rouge it is politics, or theater, that rules – not the people. And the governor, with the help of a favorable media, is trying to convince the citizens that the legislature (more specifically those rebellious House members) is the roadblock to his plans to raise taxes to fill state coffers in order to fulfill some unspoken vision of what Louisiana should be. We have already been there and it is not too pretty!
The simple fact is that if the people want to truly control government, then they will have to elect leaders who really do believe that effective, efficient government is better. Until then there will be great tension between a legislature that is close to the people and that understands that the people have just lost patience with ever growing taxes and fees coupled with ever worsening outcomes and a governor who comes from the old “Louisiana Way” philosophy of an overarching Baton Rouge-centric government structure. History tells us clearly that the “Louisiana Way” of government has failed and will continue to fail.