What happened? It has been announced that somehow Louisiana now has a surplus of between $300 and $400 million.
Do you remember only a few months ago we were told by our governor that we were about to fall off of a fiscal cliff and we simply had to have $1.2 billion in new taxes to survive? Do you remember that he threatened to cancel LSU football and worse, he sent letters to poor elderly and handicapped people threatening that they would be literally thrown out of their nursing homes? Do you remember that his staff insisted that people would die if we didn’t raise the taxes he wanted?
The way I see it there are two ways to explain this sudden revelation. One is that the governor and his staff were so inept that they could not see that revenues were improving and therefore truly believed in the fiscal cliff nonsense. That would have been bad, as we all trust him to manage a $29 billion business which is the state of Louisiana. If he doesn’t know where the money is, we have a problem.
The other possibility is that he and his people knew perfectly well that there was no fiscal cliff because we were bringing in more tax revenue than we were told. Instead, perhaps to support his well-articulated plan to grow government spending, he chose to ignore the facts and to not tell us that there was no fiscal cliff. That would not just be bad, that to me would be disingenuous and possibly even a violation of his oath of office.
I can think of no other options. We either have terrible fiscal management or we have been purposefully misled.
This all occurred on the revenue side of our budget, so I am now deeply concerned that one or both of these two possibilities occurred on the spending side too. That would mean we were deceived into voting for a spending budget that was significantly inflated.
I am sure that we will hear well-polished talking points from the governor explaining away this windfall. But in truth the only things that we should hear are that the governor will demand that the departments of government scrub the spending side of the budget, that we will reduce the sales tax percentage and return some of the ill-gotten tax gains to their rightful owners, the people of Louisiana, and that this year’s surplus will back-fill the Rainy Day fund and not be spent as the governor’s personal slush fund.