How should Louisiana solve for its upcoming $1.4-billion fiscal cliff? This time last year, hopes focused on the work of the Tax Structure Task Force and its recommendations. But as House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger said on “Talk Louisiana”, we all know how that turned out.
“We’ve taken up over 300 bills to address structural issues, and unfortunately none of those have been successful at this point,” Leger stated.
Next month, the administration has to begin drafting its next budget proposal which must be based on the reduced revenue. Meanwhile, the Governor has been meeting regularly with lawmakers, listening to their ideas, while House members from both parties meet separately and together – ostensibly in search of a mutually agreeable solution.
Yet according to House Speaker Taylor Barras, a chasm of fundamental ideology still separates the Democratic governor’s administration and the Republican majority in the House.
“We tend to focus on the expense side of the ledger, and their definition of reform is raising a billion dollars,” Barras says. “It’s not about revenue. It’s about how we spend our money and where we spend it.”
House Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry is more vitriolic in voicing his stance.
“The Governor’s not going to come up with a deficit reduction plan – where in state government he believes we can reduce spending. He doesn’t believe in that. He fundamentally does not think government has enough of your money.”
But Leger says that posturing isn’t getting the state any closer to a solution.
“Anyone with common sense and reason knows that we can’t reduce the budget by 1.4-billion – that it’s simply not an option,” Leger says of the conservative coalition's insistence on reducing the budget in preference to any other fix.
“On the other hand, I really believe that the vast majority of people in every district across the state want us to have a stable financial footing, so that we can do the things that state government promises to do.”
Tomorrow we’ll examine one often-cited theory for both causing and fixing the cliff.