Must be nice to be state treasurer. You get to put out press releases when the credit rating agencies smile upon the state, but avoid the unpleasantness of creating the conditions to make that happen.
Yes, Republican Treasurer John Schroder wrote in a letter to the editor this week, he applauded the recent upgrade from Standard and Poor's, a direct result of the GOP-majority Legislature’s extension of part of 2016’s temporary sales tax at Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ urging. But no, he did not support the sales tax itself, even though it allowed the state to stop just short of the fiscal cliff and present a more stable picture to investors.
Schroder, elected to the post in 2017 after longtime Treasurer John Kennedy went to the U.S. Senate, was actually once in a position help put the state’s finances on a more stable footing, and for a time, it seemed as if he might. In his prior role as a state representative, he authored the resolution creating a 13-member task force to look at revamping Louisiana’s tax structure, only to disavow its recommendations.
Then, while campaigning for treasurer last fall, he stuck to the vague platform of living within the state’s means without offering a plan to either protect higher education and health care from steep cuts, or proposing specific cuts himself. In his letter to the editor this week, the most specific idea he mentioned was to “increase accountability” in Medicaid, as if the huge growth in the program’s cost were only due to bad management, not need.
Of course, it’s no longer Schroder’s job to approve the budget, which probably makes him the envy of his former colleagues, many of whom hated the idea of voting for the sales tax but did what was necessary.
Like Kennedy used to — and often still does — Schroder now gets to weigh in from the sidelines. No wonder he seems intent on following his predecessor’s lead.