Anyone who follows the state’s economy knows that all is not well. Between the oil spill in the Gulf and moratorium on deep water exploration, our economy is only going to get worse.
At Friday’s meeting of the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference (”REC”) meeting House Speaker Jim Tucker refused to acknowledge the obvious; the current year’s deficit has grown.
The economists addressing the REC meeting acknowledged that while their gloomy figures are not firm, the deficit will only get larger.
At the last REC meeting prior to Friday’s, Senate President Joel Chaisson also refused to recognize the obvious. He was in a snit over when the Budget Stabilization Fund (a.k.a. Rainy Day Fund) had to be refilled.
Chaisson’s preference is to disregard the constitutional mandate. He wants an “easy-pay” plan so that state spending does not have to be curtailed.
Also disturbing is the REC’s failure to address the revenue estimates for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Clearly, if the revenues for the current fiscal are coming in less than was estimated less than two months ago, revenues for the fiscal year beginning in about three weeks also must be declining.
Regardless, neither meeting produced the necessary guidance for fiscal stability for which the REC was created.
Other than playing a high stakes game of political brinksmanship, what’s to be gained?
The end game
Some folks a lot smarter than me think the goings on (or the lack thereof) at the Capitol is part of a plan.
I’m not yet ready to give the leges credit for a plan. Planning requires a level of thinking not previously exhibited by these leges.
The Jindal Administration and the Leges are unwilling to set real budgetary priorities and properly fund them. As such, everything in the state budget is an equal priority and none is funded properly. The “wants” are over-funded and the “needs” are under-funded.
The results of failing to properly manage our government is mediocrity and higher taxes. For proof, one only has to look at what is being done this session with Higher Education.
Funding all the universities and colleges at a reduced level has resulted in mediocrity for all and a substantial tax increase.
Higher tuition (”Tax” or “fee” costs the payers the same amount.) for the college students and their parents is just one conference committee away from making it through the process.
The leges continue to spend, spend, spend, using unrealistic revenue estimates and side-stepping the constitutional mandates for fiscal responsibility.
When running for governor in 2007, Bobby Jindal promised: No more reckless spending habits from the state capitol that will bankrupt our state in the years to come.
Meanwhile he sits on the sideline and watches the reckless spending.
Planned or not, it is clear that continued mediocrity and higher state taxes are our future. Historically, when the leges are faced with dramatically reducing the budget or raising taxes, we get higher taxes.
The new taxes could come as soon as a special session this fall or as late as the regular session next spring. The mediocrity is on-going.