Loaded and Coded
Beware those who would bestow ‘fiscal responsibility’ on local government.
At first blush it sounds like the simplest of concepts. Ensure expenses don’t exceed income.
But fiscal responsibility has become the most loaded and coded term in our political parlance since a black man laid his head on a pillow in the White House, and it has migratory powers that would make a monarch butterfly blush. To be sure, there’s been something south of a paucity of fiscal responsibility by the federal government dating back decades. But the term has fluttered from where it’s applicable — Washington, D.C. — to Lafayette Consolidated Government, where it’s become code for something else entirely. Now it means “spending priorities,” and I’m calling bull.
This is a community conversation we need to have in Lafayette, and one this newspaper hopes to cultivate as we move through the master planning process that nears.
During the campaign last fall, at least one Tea Party-backed candidate for the City-Parish Council made “fiscal responsibility” a refrain during what turned out to be a successful bid for office. And just a couple of weeks ago, after he and the other eight members of the CPC were sworn in for four-year terms, a representative of the Tea Party of Lafayette told a reporter in a story that framed the inauguration as a successful insurgency by the political far right: “We want to work with the administration still, but we’re just looking for more fiscal responsibility in government on all levels.”
The implications of the story’s ground-floor architecture and the Tea Party comment are two-fold: One, the far right in Lafayette politics is now a force that must be reckoned with, which I don’t buy, and two, the fiscal supervision of Lafayette Consolidated Government has been irresponsible. That, my friends, is a load.
LCG is in the black. It has a budget surplus. Its bond rating, which is arguably the best thermometer for a city’s fiscal health, is good.
The Fitch Group, which along with Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s comprises the “Big Three” credit rating agencies, said this about Lafayette last spring: “The city’s general fund has consistently maintained a healthy reserve level, with unreserved balance ranging between 25% and 35% of expenditures. Fiscal 2010 consolidated government (city and parish combined) unreserved general fund balance totaled $25.4 million, or approximately 26% of total spending.”
Fitch summarized its estimation of Lafayette, in part, by concluding: “The city maintains a sound financial profile which is characterized by sizeable operating reserves.”
We’re living well within our means with a little disposable income in the bank.
Moody’s recently rated LCG’s ability to meet its various bond obligations in a range from Aa2 to A1 — near the top for long-term bonds. If LCG were a person, she would have a killer credit rating and a sky-high credit line on the plastic in her pocketbook. And she would wear a tiara with a fleur de lis motif of cubic zirconium, because that’s the way I like my anthropomorphized governments.
All this talk about fiscal responsibility is really just code for fiscal priorities, specifically spending taxpayer money to support the arts and culture, and to help keep up the stitching in our very porous social safety net.
There are those among us, including the newly elected chair and vice chair of the council, for whom roads, drainage and public safety are the sole purview of government. Anything beyond that is unnecessary extravagance — fiscally irresponsible frivolity.
And then there’s the rest of us. Fortunately the rest of us remains a majority recognizing that quality of life is much more than a smooth transit on a freshly paved road from a zombie exurb to the office and back again.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
Three bedroom in Lawtell or two bedroom in Rayne
Fall's new darling
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Urgent Care clinics unprepared for Ebola; Nazis collected Social Security; Hawaii dodges a bullet and more national and international news for Monday, October 20, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Two bedroom cottage in Lafayette or three bedroom traditional in Erath
Gulf Brew ready threads
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
We welcome nominations from readers and leaders throughout the business community in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Ebola is kind of terrifying if you watch too much Fox News and CNN. Especially Fox, which makes everything look terrifying because, well, War on Christmas and Obama and all.
Local developer’s Lake Charles Gardens LLC purchases buildings and leases; land still owned by Dugas family.
One bedroom townhouse or two bedroom townhouse in Lafayette
Hit the barre for a good cause
Whatever district you are in, please do your research. Find out what the schools need in order to teach. Better yet, ask your child’s teacher. They know!
Get your groove on with two free concerts in Downtown Lafayette Friday, both at Parc Sans Souci.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.