Louisiana Politics: State House members meeting privately on looming budget gap

Louisiana’s current crop of state representatives can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about the dreaded “fiscal cliff,” which is code for the more than $1 billion budget deficit slated for next fiscal year.

So they figured they may as well get together this week and talk about it amongst themselves. A bipartisan group of House members are expected to gather on Thursday, Oct. 12, for what is being billed as an “educational retreat.”

Rep. Lance Harris of Alexandria, the chairman of the House Republican Delegation, said there will be budget reports delivered by legislative staffers and the lower chamber’s leadership about what the state is facing next year in terms of a shortfall.

“We’re looking for a possible way forward,” Harris told LaPolitics. “This starts a new chapter for everyone and hopefully something bubbles to the surface. At the very least everyone can kind of see where their peers are on all of this.”

Also taking part will be Rep. Gene Reynolds, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

“There are already a bunch of small groups working on ideas and it’s a move in the right direction to pull in everyone we can — and I believe there will be a good turnout — to see what’s doable,” said Reynolds. “The best case scenario is that we walk away with something that we can take to the governor that makes him comfortable with calling a special session.”

Reynolds added that he would like to see the House move toward some sort of consensus before Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is “forced to come up with a doomsday budget.”

Dardenne is the chief budget architect for Gov. John Bel Edwards, who started warning lawmakers about the “fiscal cliff” last year when a set of temporary taxes were adopted.

Those temporary taxes — mostly in the form of an increase to the state sales tax structure — will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on June 30, 2018.

Hall of Fame hits the road
The induction ceremony and banquet next year for the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame will once again stray — rather far — from its geographic roots in Winn Parish.

The 2018 shindig is slated for March 10 at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The annual ceremony for the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame has long been marked — at least for attendees from south Louisiana — by a long drive north to Winnfield, a town that was once home to three Bayou State governors.

In 2016, however, the ceremony hit the road and was held in Lafayette, with the goal of trying to move it around to different cities every other year or so. The party was held again in Winnfield this year, but organizers are clearly sticking to their touring strategy, based on the choice of New Orleans.

The event always features memorable speeches by political players; a reception in the museum, when its in Winnfield; and an evening-ending, group singalong to “You Are My Sunshine.”

The museum, which has received some state funding in the past, is also home to Earl Long’s original campaign vehicle and Huey Long’s dining room set.

Political History:
From France to Spain

Last month marked the 253rd anniversary (September 30, 1764) of France’s decision to officially unload the Louisiana territory to Spain.

It was a secretive kind of a deal, with French officials keeping the colonists living here in the dark for two years.

When France finally sent representatives to Louisiana to begin the process in 1762 they found a government that was described as understaffed and corrupt. The treasury, in fact, was nearly empty at the time.

In “Louisiana: The Land and its People,” author Manie Culbertson explains that Spain wasn’t in a big hurry to claim its prize: “The Louisiana colony went through a period when it was treated as though it belonged to no one. Neither country — France nor Spain — felt responsible for the colony. The Spanish had a policy of mañana [Spanish for ‘tomorrow’], that they would take the colony over when they got around to it.”

Spain, of course, did eventually take ownership and it was up to French Governor Jean Jacques d’Abbadie to break the news to the locals. It didn’t go over too well, according to Culbertson: “The people reacted in horror to the news. They were French! They did not want to lose their mother country that they loved so dearly. The idea of changing their flag, laws, language, and customs made them furious.”

The upset colonists didn’t have to spend too much time under that Spanish flag, though. By 1803 Louisiana was back in French hands — for a few weeks, at least, before it was transferred to the United States.

They said it
“It’s just heartbreaking to me, man. And it pi**es me off. … My Sundays have a lot more Harley Davidson time now.”
—Congressman Clay Higgins, on the National Football League

“The president’s tweets are attention-grabbing. Who is going to be treasurer is not very compelling by comparison. It’s boring.”
—UL -Lafayette political scientist Pearson Cross, on projected low voter turnout and the treasurer’s race, in The Advocate

For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.

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