Once again you are in the midst of a regular session where you are grappling with budget issues that have consumed our state for most of the last ten years. This time you are considering a budget with a level of cuts which you probably won’t even pass, coming on the heels of a special session that adjourned without a single substantive bill being approved. All of this is beyond disappointing.
As we now look forward to yet another special session to try to resolve these very same issues, we ask that you consider these concerns:
- In the aftermath of the failure of the special session, Republicans blamed Democrats and Democrats blamed Republicans. Those positions are neither realistic nor credible. Blame does not lie with one party or individual, and political rhetoric of this nature does nothing to benefit the public or solve our problems.
- There has been no shortage of viable recommendations. In 2015, the Tax Foundation published an extensive study of Louisiana’s finances. In 2016, the Legislature’s own Task Force on Structural Changes on Budget and Tax Policy issued its report with 28 recommendations for budgetary and tax reform. These proposals have been all but ignored.
- We do not understand the inability to devise a more permanent solution to what has become an ongoing and persistent problem or to establish a vision or set of priorities for our state. The most basic job of lawmakers is providing revenues to support the priorities that you feel are most important. We hope you will finally take the steps to do that.
- It has been widely reported that through these recent sessions many legislators lost trust with each other. That is unfortunate, but it must be overcome. Until new members are elected, you are the only Legislature we have and our fiscal problems are immediate. Like the rest of us, you must find a way to work together. We have no other choice.
- It appears our budgetary problems have grown to the point that we are receiving national attention. Recent publications, representing the full political spectrum, from “liberal” to “conservative” have written about Louisiana’s budgetary instability. Standard & Poor’s bluntly stated that the Legislative gridlock of the special session has emerged as a credit weakness for Louisiana with the potential to stunt our economic momentum. We can’t let that happen.
Louisiana is at a critical juncture and we need a path forward. We believe the coming special session can and should be a bridge to a long-term, structural solution crafted by a limited constitutional convention that can address our issues in a more comprehensive and substantive fashion, giving the people of our state the hope and opportunity to vote up-or-down on a new vision for Louisiana’s fiscal and budgetary structure. Our current instability can be replaced with stability as well as a path toward a true structural change, led by the people of our great state.
In closing, we know what our problems are, and we know how to fix them. After too much delay and distraction, we ask that you begin the process of fixing them now.
Committee of 100 for Economic Development, Inc.
Council for A Better Louisiana