Gov. John Bel Edwards was brutal and honest Sunday when he opened the special session of the Legislature. We’re facing the largest budget crisis in Louisiana history: a $900 million hole with only four months to fix it. Then, there’s a $2 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year.
A challenge like this requires tough action, not empty sound bites. We’ve heard from some constituents and a few colleagues who adamantly say “no new taxes.” That’s exactly the kind of partisan talking points that got us into this mess. We need bipartisan cooperation and the courage to actually solve these problems.
The governor said it best: “Ignore the self-serving voices of candidates running for office.”
The governor’s plan is a mix of budget cuts, reducing tax breaks and, yes, some tax increases. Without comprehensive solutions, Louisiana faces significant, even terrifying, closures that will touch every corner of the state.
Yes, hospitals will close. Yes, universities won’t have enough money to finish this semester, and that will affect more than the football teams; students won’t be able to graduate, and staff will lose jobs.
The list goes on: senior centers, agricultural extension offices and corrections services all are endangered by this “no new taxes” stand.
Democrats are working together with our Republican colleagues to solve this crisis. We must put aside Washington, D.C.-style politics and work for what’s best for all of Louisiana.
State Rep. Gene Reynolds
chairman, Louisiana House Democratic Caucus