Report from Louisiana: What Fiscal Cliff? There Was a Fiscal Cliff?

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Report from Louisiana: What Fiscal Cliff? There Was a Fiscal Cliff?

[cap­tion id=“attachment_109141” align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The Louisiana Legislature[/caption]

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – Nor­mally, news of a $300 mil­lion sur­plus at the end of the State’s fis­cal year would be good news, but here in Louisiana it is prompt­ing ques­tions and accu­sa­tions amongst the polit­i­cal talk­ing heads.

All sum­mer long Louisiana res­i­dents were pum­meled with news that our bud­get was fac­ing a ter­ri­ble deficit and that this would lead to Med­ic­aid patients being evicted from nurs­ing homes, con­victs being released from prison, elim­i­na­tion of the food stamp pro­gram, and major cuts to higher edu­ca­tion. We spent over a mil­lion dol­lars to hold three spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sions in which we fought over a sales tax renewal of less than a penny which would sup­pos­edly solve all these bud­get problems.

And now, like a rab­bit out of a hat, we have a $300k surplus.

Now, it’s not that we aren’t glad to have this money to spend on wor­thy projects. We are. But by and large, many peo­ple feel played. Manip­u­lated. How can you be that far off with your fis­cal projections?

Gov­er­nor John Bel Edwards now says that this sur­plus is dou­ble good news because not only do we not have a deficit, but we have a robust econ­omy which sparked this higher than expected rev­enue and so… voila! Surplus!

Some aren’t buy­ing it; Louisiana State Sen­a­tor Con­rad Appel:

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.

Even bet­ter?

Now Gov­er­nor Edwards wants to give teach­ers a $1000 annual pay raise. (It’s an elec­tion year, you know.)

So, it’s either a glass half full or glass half empty sit­u­a­tion. You have a robust econ­omy or you have an inept gov­ern­ment. Or both?

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port and is the author of Cane River Bohemia. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25.

The Louisiana Legislature

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Normally, news of a $300 million surplus at the end of the State’s fiscal year would be good news, but here in Louisiana it is prompting questions and accusations amongst the political talking heads.

All summer long Louisiana residents were pummeled with news that our budget was facing a terrible deficit and that this would lead to Medicaid patients being evicted from nursing homes, convicts being released from prison, elimination of the food stamp program, and major cuts to higher education.  We spent over a million dollars to hold three special legislative sessions in which we fought over a sales tax renewal of less than a penny which would supposedly solve all these budget problems.

And now, like a rabbit out of a hat, we have a $300k surplus.

Now, it’s not that we aren’t glad to have this money to spend on worthy projects.  We are.  But by and large, many people feel played.  Manipulated.  How can you be that far off with your fiscal projections?

Governor John Bel Edwards now says that this surplus is double good news because not only do we not have a deficit, but we have a robust economy which sparked this higher than expected revenue and so… voila!  Surplus!

Some aren’t buying it; Louisiana State Senator Conrad Appel:

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.

Even better?

Now Governor Edwards wants to give teachers a $1000 annual pay raise.  (It’s an election year, you know.)

So, it’s either a glass half full or glass half empty situation.  You have a robust economy or you have an inept government.  Or both?

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia.  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25.