Leges want hands tied Tuesday, May 19 2015 

Leges hogtie self

How many times have we heard a lege claim their hands were tied when it came to balancing the budget.  They are referring to various constitutional dedications that allegedly prevent them from cutting anything but Higher Education and Healthcare when state revenues decline.

It’s been the standard response for the last 7 years by the leges as they slashed Higher Education and Healthcare.  Each year, I explain how it is a myth.  One example here.

On Monday in the Senate Finance Committee, Senator J.P. Morrell called the leges’ bluff.  He proposed SB 196 which would have removed every constitutional dedication.

When some of the committee members balked at removing certain dedications, Morrell offered to accept amendments to allow some dedications to stand.  Morrell merely wanted to get started “untying” the lege hands.  Not one member proposed an amendment.

The legislation was defeated by a vote of 8 to 2.  Once again the leges tied their own hands.

Action needed

When your leges return home to run for reelection this fall ask them why the colleges and healthcare funding has been cut.  When they tell you their hands were tied tell them you know better and vote for someone else.

Kudos to Senator Morrell for trying to remove a perceived impediment to properly funding higher education and healthcare.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill
 

Lawmakers give up their independence Monday, May 18 2015 

vacant-chair

Why is it empty?

Background

In 1973, the lege created the Legislative Fiscal Office (“LFO”) to provide independent analysis and advice to the lege on state fiscal matters.  Prior to 1974, the only source of such information came from the governor’s budget office.  Lacking necessary budgetary information, the lege was completely dominated by the governor’s budget staff.

In 1975, the office was staffed.  Immediately, it began leveling the playing field between the governor and the lege.  The state budget officer viewed the LFO as the “enemy.”  No longer could he get away with shooting from the lip.  He had to be prepared because the LFO staff went toe-to-toe, dollar for dollar, on every agency budget.

As the lege became more knowledgeable about state fiscal matters, they became more independent.  For decades the leges stood strong behind the LFO.

Current leges say they want to be independent, but thats lip-service.  Thats impossible without information on the budget.  Governors don’t like independent leges and have worked to undermine the LFO.

Beginning with Governor Mike Foster the office was significantly weakened by replacing a knowledgeable, no-nonsense, individual with one willing to do the governor’s bidding.

On July 16, 2012, it was announced that on August 9, 2012, Gordon Monk, the then-Lege Fiscal Officer (LFO) was retiring.   That was the nail in the coffin for the LFO and for lege independence.

Members of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees held interviews to fill the post. Almost three years later the leges have failed to elect someone as the LFO.

A former lege staffer remains as the “temporary LFO.”

However, two lege sessions (and almost a third) have come and gone with the leges failing to elect or even conduct more interviews for a LFO as required by law.

Law

State law requires there to be a Legislative Fiscal Officer  elected by a majority of the elected members of both the House and Senate.  They can also only be removed by a majority of both.  That provided some level of independence and thus objectivity for the office.  See law here.

Why neuter the LFO?

The only conclusion one can draw by the leges failure to act is to intentionally neuter the LFO.   The temporary appointee was selected by a majority of Joint Legislative Budget Committee.  A permanent LFO must be approved by a majority of the elected members of both the House and Senate and can only be removed by a majority of both.

The temporary LFO is under the domination of a small handful of leges who can remove him at any time by a majority of them.  That means the governor via his lege floor leaders control all the fiscal information available to the leges to make budgetary decisions.

Evidence of the neutering of the LFO is clearly seen in the fiscal chaos we have had for the last 6 years.  The leges have finally admitted they have no plan to deal with the $1.8 Billion deficit and have called in the “punt team” to kick the matter down the road to the next governor and lege.

Most current leges don’t know the purpose of the LFO.  The few veterans that do are part of the effort to limit it because they know how influential it could be.

Action needed

It’s time to either return the LFO as it was intended or eliminate it.  Currently, it is toothless, redundant (with lege committee staffs) and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill

Interim House Tax Voting Records Wednesday, May 13 2015 

hogs-at-trough

 

How your lege (picture above) voted to increase your taxes.

1. HB 629  increased your taxes by $223 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

2. HB805 increased your taxes by $110 Million. To see how your lege voted go here.

3. HCR8 increases your taxes by $103 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

4. HB624 increases your taxes by $87 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

5.HB 119 increased your taxes by $68 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

6. HB 402 increased your taxes by $34 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

7. HB 218 increased your taxes by $29 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

8. HB 779 increased your taxes by $15 Million, in first year.  To see how your lege voted go here.

9. HB 635 increased your taxes by $9 Million.  To see how your lege voted go here.

10. HB 829 increased your taxes by $137,000.  To see how your lege voted go here.

A “YEA” vote is to increase your taxes.  A “NAY” vote is against raising your taxes.  “ABSENT” is counted as a NAY vote.

If you want to make a change in how the Louisiana House votes, keep these voting records for when your lege asks for your vote this fall.

C.B.

 

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