Earlier this week a column by Lanny Keller in the Advocate relied upon incremental facts taken out of historical context in order to justify a demand that the Legislature follow the Governor’s lead on increasing taxes without linking those to structural budgetary reforms.
Most disturbing about Keller’s piece was that it cited the often repeated claim that legislative decisions are being driven by a desire to resist the Governor just because he is a Democrat. I know that the National Democratic Party has made “resistance” to President Trump the centerpiece of their strategy but, as I have written numerous times, in Louisiana this strategy has never been advocated by GOP legislators. It is but a talking point for those trying to embarrass the GOP majority legislature into voting to support the Governor’s tax plans.
Let me make this clear once again; there is absolutely a significant philosophical divide between the Legislature and the Governor. But it is a divide that is based upon a desire by the Legislature to move toward an effective AND efficient government instead of his desire to maintain the status quo. It is not because he is a Democrat; it is because so many legislators have heard his approach and reject it as counter-productive to a growing economy and a better life for our people.
The Governor’s push for a pre-session Special Session is glaring evidence of his philosophy. Under his scenario we would once again raise taxes in order to fully fund state policies and programs that have landed us in last place by most measures. He would ask us to increase taxes without any concern for those two criteria, efficiency and effectiveness.
So here is my fervent ask of our media. Please think about the future of Louisiana when you write in support of a plan to maintain that status quo. Remember that the Task Force on Taxation and the Budget was conceived as a balanced analysis of tax policy and budgetary reforms. But, for reasons that I could speculate upon, they consciously evaded almost any discussions or conclusions on what everyone knew was most important to the Legislature, budgetary reforms, focusing instead on tax policy.
Please remember the real facts of history; contra Keller’s claims, our current shortfall is not based solely upon the reverse of the Stelly tax. No, our problems are grounded in a near-100 year period of government policies that were originally based upon the massive inflow of petro-dollars that are now dried up.
This state desperately needs a 21st century makeover and we all know that to follow the lead of this governor is the equivalent of just placing a bandage upon the open sore that is the last hundred years of state government practice. Though politically safe for someone solely focused upon re-election, it would do nothing but prolong the people’s agony.
No, Lanny and my friends in the media, the Legislature is not following our Governor just because he is a Democrat – as much as you’d like to make that allegation, it simply doesn’t wash. We are refusing to following him because his philosophy is exactly what has led us to that infamous title of last place in every category of state success.
Contrary to what is needed for a prosperous future, his proposals to tax our people without corresponding significant reforms is exactly what we must avoid. We need fiscal reform, but ONLY in the context of significant overarching policy reform. Fiscal reform in isolation will only insure that nothing changes and our grandchildren will still live in a state last in all those metrics!