by Mark Parham
Every year Louisiana comes up short of a revenue based balanced budget and every year we rob Peter to pay Paul and this leaves Peter to the task of doing less than the year before. To make matters worst, Paul has to make mid-year cuts to services when the revenue just isn’t there as anticipated when he first robbed Peter. Now for the truth. We who followed the Legislative session and the budget bill process knew, as well as most of our Legislators, the mid-year cuts would be inevitable. So what are we to do to stop business as usual and reform the budget process with everyone getting involved. Louisiana is Republican led from the Governors mansion to both Houses yet we are still doing business in the good ole boys club fashion.
The necessary number of our Representatives from the House called for a special session to address these mid-term cuts by the governor only to be shot down by the lack of support in the Senate. Elected officials who gave the Governor and his staff free rein and choose not to represent their districts. One of our local Southwest Louisiana Senators, made the comment a “special session would could $100,000 a day and its just not the smart thing to do”. What happened to the concept of three equal branches of government and the checks and balances that come from them? We pretty much have lost it on the federal level but by God we should demand nothing less for our state!
The Lake Charles American Press, on Friday November 9th, ran an opinion piece criticizing the choices made by our Senators and at the same time calling for a more balanced state government with the endorsement of every one of its senior editors. In this piece the writer stated what everyone already knew:
“Right now, the Legislature, for its want of courage, embarrasses itself as an institution as well as the individual members within it. With few exceptions, our legislators have surrendered their authority as elected officials to the House and Senate leadership that was imposed on them by the governor. If the lawmakers ever had clout in Baton Rouge, most of them gave it up cheerfully. The state is now ruled mostly by a government of one: The governor. Senator Morrish rightly noted that the governor has kept elected lawmakers out of any discussions when it comes to these dramatic budget cuts. Jindal has not only imposed huge cuts on state institutions, driving people out of work in our own backyard, he has imposed his will on the Legislature with little or no push-back. That ought to give lawmakers something to talk about.” No one can know how Richard’s effort might have worked if lawmakers had called themselves into session. Richard himself was unsure if the governor’s moves were wise or not; he just wanted lawmakers to be involved. We should all want that, lawmakers especially.
This state has three branches of government. One, the Legislature, has been missing in action.
It’s time to change that.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.”
Now, the first step to help fix these budget problems is currently in the works with the formation of the “Budget Reform Campaign”. Chaired by Rep. Brett Geymann (R) of Lake Charles,La. and many other Representatives, business and civic minded individuals in the hopes of engaging people from all across the state by holding “Listening Tours” in every area of our state. The mission statement of this reform coalition is to bring back to Louisiana “clear budget priorities, a Constitutional and transparent budget process and achieve a rational and sustainable state budget that best serves the needs of the people, families and businesses of Louisiana”.
Re-engaging our Legislatures equal powers now falls on you and I to take part in demanding our Representatives step up and become what they were elected to be, the mouthpiece for our thoughts and needs as citizens. Allowing the Governor to run roughshod over them must come to an end. One thing is certain. We will look closely at every single candidate for governor in 2015 and recall their actions of today.
budget reform website here
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