There’s not much to say about the aborted special session that hasn’t already been articulated from just about every corner. It was a failure and now we’re headed into a much longer regular session with a huge cloud hanging over the entire proceeding. The question looming over it all is whether there’s any reason to think that now with the clock really ticking, there’s any reason to expect a better outcome.
It is hard to think of a special session ending on any more of a vitriolic note. Everyone was blaming everyone. People were called out as liars. And there were constant complaints about a lack of trust in an institution where trust used to be the glue that held things together.
Now a regular session starts on Monday. It’s hard to know what to expect, but maybe the best outcome might be not much. It’s hard to see the acrimony that exploded at the end of the special session not spilling over into the regular session – and that’s bad news.
Budget issues aside, it’s almost scary to think of lawmakers tackling any kind of really substantive policy matters in the current environment. Will they be voting on the policies or providing political payback for what did or didn’t happen in the special session? As cynical as that sounds, it’s a legitimate concern. Advocates are being warned that if they have a bill they need to pass they better run it early, because you don’t want it hanging around when it gets late.
Given that, is there a constructive outcome that could happen in this session? Yes. One critical one could be that lawmakers have a serious discussion about the budget and make a real decision about how much they want to spend and, if they want to cut, where that would be. Despite the rhetoric to the contrary, they can do it.
In fact, it’s worth noting that to a degree, they have already done that. By using gimmicks to support spending levels during the Jindal administration and raising temporary taxes to do the same in the Edwards administration, they have by default established the levels of spending that a majority in both chambers believe is acceptable.
If they’ve changed their minds, they can do that, but they should be transparent about it, allow both the House and the Senate to weigh in and make their points, and be honest with the public about where the cuts will be made and the impact to expect. That’s only fair.
It’s sad that it feels like things have devolved into Washington politics Louisiana style. Polls indicate everyone is supposed to hate Washington politics, so why do we now seem to embrace it?
These are issues that all states wrestle with at one time or another. We know the solutions and we know what we need to do. As voters we might feel helpless watching the dysfunction, but there is one thing we can do. We can contact our legislators and tell them this has gone on long enough and we need them to fix it. That’s all, just fix it.