Lurking in the background of the long-running standoff over how to pay for state services has been a two-part question: Is Baton Rouge becoming more like Washington? And is that what we really want?
To the first part, the answer has to be yes.
There are differences, of course. Louisiana's Legislature is still officially non-partisan, which means that, unlike Congress, the majority party doesn't hold every leadership position. Cross-party deals still get made. The GOP-majority Senate is generally supportive of the Democratic governor, although that might change once term limits clear out much of the old guard.
Where we're seeing more Washington-style politics is in dealings between Gov. John Bel Edwards and the House, which is also majority Republican but, unlike the Senate, tends to act like it. The inability to even approach a deal on how to avert the fiscal cliff — the imminent loss of about $1 billion in revenue once temporary taxes drop off the books — sounds like business as usual up in DC.
With Congress perhaps heading toward a government shutdown this weekend, the similarities are even more striking. Rather than deal with important programs that affect many thousands of vulnerable people on their own merits, congressional leaders have used kids who get care through the Children's Health Insurance Program and young immigrants brought to the U.S. when they were children as political pawns.
While the stakes aren't so potentially devastating, folks in Baton Rouge seem to be gearing up to treat people who rely upon TOPS scholarships the same way.
Which brings us to the second part of the question: Is this really what we want?
You tell me.