Enough of the fiscal cliff. Enough of “there’s nothing we can do but cut health care and reduce higher education funding. The constitution, y’know?” This mantra comes from the so-called left and the so-called right. The same song we’ve heard since Edwin Edwards was going to have to unplug the dialysis machines in the 1980s. It’s because the Louisiana Constitution is irrevocably chiseled in granite.
It’s interesting that only three short years ago, our esteemed legislators discovered a horrendous gap in the Constitution — nursing homes weren’t making enough guaranteed revenue. Millions of taxpayer dollars were being spent to maintain the disabled and elderly in their homes instead of warehousing them in the nursing home system. Nursing home owners lined up with fat campaign contribution envelopes in hand to demand that something be done to correct this grievous wrong. Presto! We had a constitutional amendment on the ballot that enshrined a continuing and increasing taxpayer-funded revenue scheme for the poor nursing home owners at the expense of funds for home health care.
The Louisiana Legislature and the governor have the power to make murder a misdemeanor if they so choose. They can unwind the “constitutional” dedicated spending mess. They have the clear ability to place amendments on the ballot. They have the platform to publicly and vigorously support amendments for voter approval. See the 2014 nursing home amendment for pointers. All it takes is the will to do the right thing. We’ll see.