John Bel Edwards with Doug Jones

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Alabama senator-elect Doug Jones (image via Twitter). 

Alabama’s fifth national championship win in 9 years should be a reminder to all of us of the power of culture. For Alabama coach Nick Saban to enjoy the success he’s had, he obviously knows how to develop a winning culture that produces excellence.

Grace Notes: In drive to curtail TOPS scholarships, count Gov. John Bel Edwards as a skeptic

One of the beauties of our nation’s founding fathers is they set up our constitutional republic in such a way that each state would have the freedom to create its own political culture. We’re clearly witnessing a shift in culture from what we had during the years under former Gov. Bobby Jindal to what we are experiencing now under his successor, Gov. John Bel Edwards. Jindal seemed to put more faith in the private sector, and Edwards seems to view government as one of the major catalysts toward prosperity. I’m sure they are both well-meaning, but different in approach and philosophy nonetheless.

Another indication of Edwards “government saves the day” mentality is his solution to his well-hyped and often repeated fiscal cliff. He could just push for a renewing of the one-penny sales tax and all of sudden, poof, problem solved and impending cliff averted. But Edwards' approach instead targets businesses by reducing certain tax exemptions. He also wants to raise taxes on business and industrial utilities. The move could force some employers to cut back and possibly lay off workers. But this makes perfect sense if you believe government, not the free-market, is the way to prosperity.

If Edwards can’t get the Legislature to go along with his plan for raising taxes, then he’ll be forced to implement close to one billion in cuts from the state budget. Speaking before the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, Edwards moved his line in the sand for lawmakers to agree on a plan before calling a special session in February. He originally told legislators they had until Jan. 19 to coalesce around a plan. Otherwise, he said he would not call a special session. Now, he says he’ll extend the deadline. Sounds like the governor is having trouble getting legislators to see things his way.

Edwards is fortunate in that he seems to have complete control of the Senate, and his only opposition involves the House. It’s a tough ask for House members to stand up to Edwards. He’s repeatedly threatened to reduce funding for TOPS if the legislature doesn't go along with his new revenue plans. If House members are unable to muster up the courage to resist Edwards' anti-business, revenue-raising measures, they know the governor will blame them for any reduction in TOPS funding and any other high profile cuts. This narrative will play nicely as Edwards runs for reelection.

Lanny Keller: Louisiana lawmakers caught in fiscal torrent, not even trying to swim

In the end, Edwards will most likely agree to renewing the one-cent sales tax. Several months ago, he predicted the sales tax extension would happen but recently changed his tune. State Sen. Conrad Appel, a Metairie Republican, says no one was complaining about the extra penny sales tax. He says Edwards is now just playing to his base and trying to show political strength by suddenly opposing the tax. Edwards recently called the sales tax "regressive" and harmful to low-income folks. It's something his left-leaning base loves to hear. But the truth is that the sales tax is the most fair of all taxes. Everybody pays the same percentage. It’s the very definition of fair.

Regardless of what happens with the state’s budget shortfall as a result of the expiring penny sales tax, this we know: our political culture has shifted and now favors the strength of government over the vibrancy of the private sector.

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