If Gov. John Bel Edwards played the disappointed dad last year amid ongoing legislative chaos, he's got even more reason to be let down by the Legislature this time around. And that's not even considering the all the big stuff that lawmakers simply didn't do during the session that ended amid chaos and recriminations Thursday night.
The failure of the House to pass a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, triggering an immediate special session that legislative leaders had insisted wouldn't be necessary, is the latest sign that some lawmakers simply need to "grow up," the governor said afterwards.
The budget that came down the wire was full of wins for Republicans. It included no new revenue. It fully funded the TOPS scholarships. It had passed the Republican majority Senate, which has more than a few conservative members, with only one dissenting vote. According to a procedural test vote, it likely had just enough support in the GOP-controlled House to have passed, had leadership allowed a straight, last-minute up-or-down choice.
After a dramatic breakdown in budget negotiations, the Louisiana Legislature finds itself in…
That's not what happened. Negotiations in conference committee broke down because House leaders couldn't win enough support through the normal process to include a plan to reserve some money in case revenue estimates fall short, as they often do. House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, backed by Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, swatted away a move by Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, to force a House vote on the Senate-passed version. Instead, the chamber's leaders forced their angry colleagues to come back and confront the very same conditions in a special session.
A few cheerleaders in the Twitter peanut gallery lauded the House for supposedly standing on principle, including former state Rep. Brett Geymann, late of the "fiscal hawks" caucus, and the local chapter of the Koch brothers affiliate, Americans for Prosperity.
Following three consecutive legislative sessions, each of which ended in confusion over just…
Otherwise, the reviews were devastating, not just from onlookers and Democrats. Typical was state Rep. Julie Stokes, and Kenner Republican and candidate for state treasurer, who decried the "total dysfunction" and retweeted an Advocate editorial calling for lawmakers to forego daily pay during the unnecessary special session. Edwards chimed in during his session-ending press conference that he thinks a majority of legislators had come to Baton Rouge determined to fix problems, but were thwarted by politically-motivated leadership.
As he tends to do during these by-now routine sessions, though, Edwards reached for a note a optimism. Although lawmakers didn't touch large-scale tax reform or do anything to head off next year's fiscal cliff, they did come together to pass a landmark criminal justice reform package with broad bipartisan support.
His point? "We know what is possible."