A gaggle of state representatives, all of them Republican save for one independent, have asked state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell for an opinion on whether the 2012-13 state budget is unconstitutional “on multiple grounds.” That would be the budget submitted by Gov. Bobby Jindal before the 2012 legislative session — a budget laden with accounting gimmicks and reliant on one-time, non-recurring revenue for recurring expenses, which is precisely why the group of lawmakers seeks Caldwell’s opinion. Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, is among the legislators seeking the AG opinion.
“Legislators are concerned whether Louisiana’s state budget is constitutional and lawful,” says Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge and vice-chairman of the House Commerce Committee, in a press release announcing the legal query. “We are seeking guidance regarding whether exceeding the revenue forecast; use of contingency funds and one-time funds in the budget are lawful and constitutional. We hope to continue the efforts of legislators to ensure that our budget and budget process yield a result that best serves the needs of the people, families and businesses of Louisiana.”
We can’t help but wonder if this is a perilous (albeit necessary) move by the solons, in light of the governor’s well-known penchant for dispensing punishment — ouster from prestigous committees, loss of chairmanships, etc. — against lawmakers who fail to smile that wan, sycophantic smile.
But it also conforms to a trend of state lawmakers demonstrating and acting publicly on their unease with the way Jindal has run state government. A related initiative involving some of the same lawmakers as Talbot’s group and evidently entirely Republican among the ranks of elected officials, the Budget Reform Campaign, has been making noise about promoting budget reform — especially ending the use of one-time dollars for recurring expenses, something Jindal is famous for — via constitutional amendments. The group has formed a political action committee managed by state Rep. Simone Champagne, a Jeanerette Republican.
The announcement by Talbot et al comes on the heels of the governor’s budget advisors announcing late last week that the 2013-2014 budget, which begins July 1, 2013, already faces a staggering $963 million shortfall. That’s 96 percent of a billion dollars, kids, so let’s just call it a billion.
Check out the Budget Reform Campaign’s website here.
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DEC 8 - Maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all. This post on the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association's site says we're looking at oil prices that are tanking because there's so much oil coming out of the Gulf. Some are even predicting a glut. What's likely to be the result? Lower gas prices, higher refinery profits, and more pressure on the feds to loosen export restrictions.
DEC 8 Here's the latest from blogger Robert Mann, and it's on one of his favorite topics: Bobby Jindal. He's taking a look at Jindal's record and his current maneuvering, which of course is a ploy to position him for a run for the White House. "America Next," Jindal's current big idea, is just as vague about what it is proposing as Jindal usually is, Mann says. And it won't protect him from his "unimaginative record," as Mann describes it.
DEC 8 - Don't know what that is? Then run on over to LaPolitics and read this post by Jeremy Alford, which serves as a history lesson about the famed tonic and it's purveyor, Dudley LeBlanc. It's really a fascinating story and Alford's description of Dudley as an "icon of Louisiana politics and culture" is not an exaggeration.
DEC 8 In this editorial, the Picayune again urges Gov. Jindal to take the Medicaid money. But the piece's exhortation that Jindal "be sensible" is a little misplaced, isn't it? Because Jindal's not being stupid -- well, maybe he is -- but he's following orders from people he believes can get him into the White House. This editorial is engaging in the argument that Jindal is publicly making, without acknowledging what his true motivations are. Somebody send these guys a clue.
DEC 8 Columnist Mark Ballard is writing about the impact of Vance McAllister's defeat of Neil Riser in this post. He starts out talking about how McAllister's more reasonable approach was more attractive to voters than was Riser's hard-line (tea-party-ish) rants. Dan Claitor, a state lege from BR who is expected to run for Congress soon, expressed it best when he said voters aren't looking for candidates who are "throwing temper tantrums when they can't get their way."
DEC 8 It's always gratifying when a Louisiana son makes international headlines. And our son, David "former KKK grand poobah" Duke is back in the news, making us all proud. This (UK) Telegraph story, unearthed by the Dead Pelican, tells us that Duke has been expelled from Italy but is trying to return. The Italians say he is trying to "establish a pan-European, extremist neo-Nazi group in northern Italy." Huh. You don't say.
DEC 9 This is a kind of puzzling post from columnist Jim Beam, in which he discusses a recent appearance by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in Lake Charles. He said he's surprised by EWE's "grasp of current events." Did Jim never meet Slick Eddie? He's no dummy, and for Beam to assume he is -- well, given he covered the man for 50 years, that's the surprise.
DEC 9 A "suspicious package" shut down part of Zachary Sunday, WAFB tells us in this post. The package, which eventually was "rendered safe" (bomb squad lingo for blown up) was found in a storage unit that someone quit paying on. Other cop gear was found in the unit, so it is possible the thing was a training tool, police say. But they leave out the best part: who bought it? Barry, Jarrod or Darrell?
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