Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: Legislators created a monster
- 2013 - 845 articles
- 2012 - 1954 articles
- 2011 - 2029 articles
- 2010 - 2139 articles
- December 2010 - 176 articles
- November 2010 - 187 articles
- October 2010 - 180 articles
- September 2010 - 198 articles
- August 2010 - 154 articles
- July 2010 - 197 articles
- June 2010 - 148 articles
- June 29th, 2010 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- June 24th, 2010 (Thursday) - 40 articles
- June 23rd, 2010 (Wednesday) - 1 articles
- June 22nd, 2010 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- Legislators created a monster
- June 17th, 2010 (Thursday) - 27 articles
- June 15th, 2010 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- June 10th, 2010 (Thursday) - 31 articles
- June 8th, 2010 (Tuesday) - 1 articles
- June 6th, 2010 (Sunday) - 2 articles
- June 4th, 2010 (Friday) - 1 articles
- June 3rd, 2010 (Thursday) - 37 articles
- June 2nd, 2010 (Wednesday) - 1 articles
- June 1st, 2010 (Tuesday) - 4 articles
- May 2010 - 167 articles
- April 2010 - 241 articles
- March 2010 - 170 articles
- February 2010 - 167 articles
- January 2010 - 154 articles
- 2009 - 2066 articles
- 2008 - 1757 articles
|Legislators created a monster|
It was obvious from the onset that the 2010 regular legislative session would not reflect your run-of-the-mill session where legislators went about their day-to-day activities following the governor's lead.
It was not that Gov. Bobby Jindal didn't lead. He led when he was at capitol, but that wasn't often. Instead, the governor spent most of the session on the Gulf Coast, trying in vain to prevent the Deepwater Horizon incident from becoming a full-fledged catastrophe, which Louisiana can't afford economically or otherwise.
No, the regular session distinguished itself on day one as one for the ages, or a legislator's worst nightmare. It was a nightmare because the state treasury has been taking on red ink much quicker than it took President Obama to recognize that the Deepwater disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was a serious matter that demanded his attention.
Three months ago, the Legislature faced a $319 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year while much belt tightening would be required to approve a balanced budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. A few weeks ago, we learned the $319 million deficit had grown to more than $500 million. Disagreements surfaced over how to make it go away.
As has been the case since Jindal and the current crop of legislators took office in January 2008, the Senate was at odds with the House throughout much of the session, especially when the discussion of money surfaced. The House favored deep cuts in spending this year ahead of the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Remember, it is expected that the Legislature will have about $1 billion less on hand to spend next year than it had at its disposal for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Backed by Jindal, the Senate wanted to minimize cuts in spending for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and simply let the chips fall where they may in the hereafter. After all, no one really knows how badly the state will suffer—economically and otherwise—in the wake of the Deepwater mess.
In the end, or as the session came to a close, the Senate got its way on the budget, much to the chagrin of fiscal conservatives who know that the only way to shrink government is to starve it of money, affectionately known as starve the beast.
If one ever wondered how powerful a governor in Louisiana is or can be, all one needs to do is reflect upon the final days the regular session. One week ago, the Legislature was at an impasse over the current budget and the state's spending plan for the new fiscal year. The leadership in the House and the leadership in the Senate were not communicating like grown adults.
Along came Jindal, who, beginning Friday of last week, brought the adults together and explained what he expected them to do before the session adjourned sine die Monday afternoon. It was that simple.
Yet, the Legislature created a monster in many ways when it plugged a hole in the current budget and approved a $26 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The monster being the presence of some $2 billion in one-time revenues that lawmakers used to close out the current fiscal year as well as to prop up the new fiscal year budget.
That's $2 billion that won't be available next spring when the Legislature convenes a regular session in an election year. Accordingly, lawmakers will have the lovely honor of either raising taxes or implementing more cuts in spending. Again, in an election year.
As one administration official explained it to me, one-time revenues were not used for recurring expenses in balancing the budget if the expenses in question are eliminated next year.
On the surface, it's that simple.