State Rep. Blake Miguez recently wrote an opinion letter supporting House Bill 105, attempting to create a separate budget for the Attorney General’s Office. I feel compelled to respond.
Miguez makes some compelling points: We are in a budgetary crisis requiring some creative approaches. He claims that the budgetary process has not worked well; I concur, having witnessed eight years of fiscal, slight-of-hand tricks by former Gov. Bobby Jindal and swallowed whole by a rather spineless Legislature controlled by Republicans lacking the backbone to question the perpetual presidential candidate.
Miguez also states that “granting statewide officials more autonomy over their own department appropriations is one that every good-government advocate should support.” Perhaps, but I argue with the method the Republicans are employing to reach that goal.
Passing a simple bill, HB105 in this case, is not enough.
The constitution of 1974 is the paramount authority defining the role and duties of each branch of the government. It is crystal clear for all who read it.
Article IV, Section 5 (D) clearly states that “The governor shall submit to the Legislature an operating budget and a capital budget, as provided by Article VII, Section 11 of this constitution.”
Not the attorney general, not the lieutenant governor, of the recent, bizarre economic deal with Iraq and Alexandros Inc., not the secretary of state. Only the governor.
Upon checking Article VII, Section 11, it became even more unequivocal. Only the governor is called upon to submit a budget estimate, an operating budget and a capital budget.
Each section begins with the same words or phrases: “The governor shall submit ... a budget estimate”; “The governor shall cause to be submitted a general appropriations bill”; and “The governor shall submit to the Legislature ... a proposed five-year capital outlay program.”
Miguez is correct in that the Legislature does not have to approve any of these things, but that sounds more like Washington-style politics than common-sense Louisiana solutions.
It also is clearly outlined at the very beginning of Article IV, Section 1 (C) on Reorganization. “Reallocation of the functions, powers and duties of all departments, offices, agencies and other instrumentalities of the executive branch, except those functions, powers, duties and responsibilities allocated by this constitution, shall be as provided by law.”
Any attempts to reallocate functions, powers, duties and responsibilities already clearly expressed in the constitution require an amendment, not merely a law. Serious attempts to achieve these goals need to follow the proper channels, not ones that create more ill will between officials of different political persuasions and would likely lead to expensive and pointless litigation.