Congratulations to St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister for convening a meeting of numerous parish presidents and area leaders to discuss budget issues.
Local governments need to speak up in Baton Rouge and have a strong voice in any budget discussions that take place as our new governor attempts to solve fiscal problems. But they shouldn’t take a seat at the table looking to “not lose” or “increase” local distribution of state money.
Instead, local governing bodies should be responsible for their own well-being and eliminate the “throw me something” mentality that seems to currently exist, as locals continue to assume there will be enough money in the state coffers to support their programs.
If the state Legislature would eliminate all pass-down funding, it could eliminate considerable wasted tax revenue and fund only those issues that are truly statewide in nature, like education, health care, infrastructure, etc.
Things like the small-business-crippling inventory tax could then come off the state table, and the state treasury could stop being a pass-through entity for funds collected from business, credited several months later and then passed out to local governments.
To help this matter, eliminate all unnecessary state mandates. Any and all state mandates should be on the reviewing table, much like the highly visible film credits, solar credits and others so often publicized.
Whatever funding local governments need for their constituents, be it supplemental pay (for whomever deserves it), beautification or whatever, let the local politicians go to their voters and make their case for that funding. If the people don’t think those services are necessary or appropriate, they will not vote to collect those taxes.
The governor’s special session really could be something special if he considers the myriad programs, departments and systems that could be consolidated, eliminated or replaced, and not just a gathering of ideas as to how to increase revenue. As has been said many times, Louisiana doesn’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. Why else would we be the highest per capita spending state in the South?