Attorney General Jeff Landry says Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration has created a "constitutional crisis" by presenting an executive budget proposal last month that exceeds the recognized revenue estimate for the coming year.
"The governor failed to fulfill his constitutional and statutory duties," Landry, a Republican who has frequently been at odds with the Democratic governor, wrote in a legal opinion issued Friday.
The attorney general's opinion is not legally binding, but it could be used as the basis of a lawsuit challenging the governor. State House Majority Leader Lance Harris, an Alexandria Republican who is on the Appropriations Committee, requested that the attorney general weigh in.
Edwards also has frequently feuded with House GOP leaders.
Edwards' administration was required to submit a spending proposal for the budget that begins July 1 to the Legislature last month, but because House leadership repeatedly rebuffed attempts to update the state's revenue estimate to meet state economists' better projections, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne presented an outline of what Edwards' spending priorities would be when the increased revenue is recognized, rather than the lower estimate set a year ago.
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Dardenne on Friday defended the administration's decision, despite the AG's opinion.
“He’s entitled to his opinion, we just think it happens to be wrong,” Dardenne said.
He said he expects the issue to be a moot point when the Legislature begins debating the budget and additional revenue is recognized.
“We’re trying to make this as easy as possible on the Legislature and the legislative staff,” Dardenne said.
The attorney general's opinion is the latest move in a three-year feud that House Republicans have engaged in with Edwards, publicly challenging him on state spending and taxes.
The Legislature last year, after seven special sessions, agreed to extend part of an otherwise expiring sales tax hike to shore up the state's finances. Republicans say they have set out on the revenue estimate battle because they want to make sure that the state's finances are sound before appropriating money. The Edwards' administration has accused them of playing a political game to block him from taking credit for his top priority for the session -- pay raises for teachers.
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