The fiscal budget crisis in Louisiana isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, previous estimates of a $30 million shortfall ending by June 30 has now increased to $70 million. And, as for 2017, the $800 million shortfall is now estimated at $950 million, as of today. This leaves many Louisiana residents scratching their heads after a multitude of tax increases by the legislature and Governor at the recent special legislative session, leaving Louisiana with the highest sales tax in the nation. The big question is “where is all of the money going?” Louisiana has the worst roads in the nation and ranks almost dead last in education. Where is all of the revenue from casino gambling which promised the voters it would fund and improve education? It seems the more revenue our state expels from its citizens, the more crippling effect it has on the budget. How is that so?
More money aids in the possibilities of more corruption, and/or wasteful spending. Casino gambling got Louisiana’s once beloved Governor Edwin Edwards eight years in a federal penitentiary for racketeering. More money at the hands of politicians, incites temptations for pet projects, frivolous or pork barrel spending, voter persuasion via money grants or government expansion, or all out corruptive embezzlements. Once a new government program is implemented, it becomes imbedded into society and grows like a cancer. People become dependent upon the handouts and lax their intuitive responsibilities to provide opportunities to generate revenue for their municipalities. Now, I do understand the government needs funds for its functionality, but when to we as citizens draw the line and demand that “enough is enough!”
It is true that our budget crisis didn’t develop overnight and it will take some time to heal. The current oil field crisis is also bearing down as well. However, it is minor in terms of our spending. In fact, eight years ago Bobby Jindal was handed a $12 billion budget. Eight years later he passed on a $25 billion to our current governor. Now, the responsibility does not lie solely in the hands of the governor. In fact it is the legislature’s responsibility to produce the budget then bring it forth for approval by the governor where he approves or vetoes certain measures, and the negotiation begins. There is a slew of politicians to blame for our current budget crisis, and we reelected most of them at the most recent election.
The point here is simple. When is enough revenue enough revenue? When will spending cuts enter into the discussion, rather than more tax proposals? How many of you cut spending in your household to suffice your revenues? How many of you spend more and expect more? It simply doesn’t add up! Governor Edwards has repeatedly criticized the legislature for their inability to raise more taxes. After a multitude of recent increases, it seems that it still is not enough to satisfy Governor Edwards. It seems his stubbornness and insistency on raising taxes has clouded his mind regarding the real problem of frivolous spending. In fact, the legislature has proposed, however minor, a $4.4 million proposal in legislative cuts, which is listed below. Of course, it was vetoed by Governor Edwards in an attempt to drive his point for tax increases home, with a failed attempt to reach common ground in providing a balanced budget. Louisiana and its citizens deserve better than that and we should demand it!
The $4.4 million in legislative cuts that the governor vetoed are as follows:
- Cutting the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District — which manages the Superdome, Smoothie King Center and Saints practice facilities among other things — by $5.1 million. Edwards has reduced this cut to $3 million.
- Cutting the Louisiana Racing Commission by $367,802. Edwards has reduced this cut to $185,000 instead.
- Cutting State Police by $3.8 million. Edwards has reduced this cut to $2.3 million instead.
- Cutting the Office of the Secretary, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism by $500,000. Edwards has restored this cut completely.
- Moving $24 million from the Office of Motor Vehicles to the Department of Transportation and Development. Edwards has reduced this transfer of funds to $18 million.