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You are visiting my site on: July 20, 2024

Did Louisiana Republican Legislators Wimp Out?

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? What’s the old saying? Don’t pay attention to what I say. Watch what I do. Appreciate the truism here. One only has to compare the rhetoric from Louisiana Republican legislators during the past few weeks of the 2007 session as compared to the actual votes these same legislators cast. Two stark and opposing pictures here.

For months, Republican legislators were continually protesting the spending plans coming out of Governor’s office. And there was certainly much to be concerned about. A budget that topped $30 billion, more than twice the amount that was available two years ago. Louisiana taxpayers continually heard the Republican war cry that spending had to be curtailed, and more tax dollars needed to be returned to the masses.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco though would have no part of the whining. She accused Republican legislators of acting like “a bunch of spoiled children.” Then she drew a line in the dirt and really hit home. “Mama says you’d better be careful or you’re going to lose your projects.”

Boy, the Guv really knew how to make it hurt. No personal projects? No tax dollars for the Tipitina’s Foundation? Not a dime for the Tensas Reunion? Nothing for the Winnsboro Gun Club? And not one single penny for the New Orleans Masjid of Al-Islam, Inc? (Hey, they only wanted $50,000)

Well, that was way too much for Republican legislators to have to swallow. The groaned and grumbled a bit. Then the posturing began. “We fought a good fight,” House Republican leader Jim Tucker said. “We won a few but we lost most, and I think what people should take from this session is the fact that we spend every dollar over the objection of Republicans.”

The state Republican Party also chimed in. “The outnumbered Republican delegation was unable to stop the Blanco spending train.” Simply put, Republican legislators did their dead level best to oppose the massive, irresponsible spending on the part of the Governor and the Democratic majority in the legislature. They gave it their best shot, voted against the spending measures, and fought the good fight. Right? Well, that’s not quite what really happened.

Despite all the rhetoric, when it came time to vote “yes” or “no” on all the major spending legislation, the overwhelming majority of Republican legislators were in lock step with the Governor. Now remember, there are a sizable number of GOP legislators. 14 Senators and 42 House members are in that number. More than the one third necessary to stop the capitol outlay and other major spending bills.

So how did Republicans vote? On HB 1, the appropriations bill, only two republicans voted no in the Senate, and six voted no in the House. When it came to HB 2, the capitol outlay bill for all major construction and road projects, it would have only taken a united Republican effort to stop the Governor cold. Yet not one single Republican legislator, either in the House or Senate, opposed her spending plans. Not one. Should I repeat my self? Not one. The same can be said for HB 3, with is key legislation authorizing bonding capacity and long range spending over the next five years. A two thirds vote is required to pass. No protest from any Republican legislator.

So what happened? GOP legislators kept a united front until the waning days of the legislative session. Then Blanco pulled out her extra Ace. North Louisiana legislators were pushing full force on two key projects, both with merit, but not high on the Baton Rouge priority list. First, $77.5 million for the completion of I 49 to the Arkansas line from Shreveport. And second, $50 million for a cyber command Research Park that would attract a number of private sector businesses.

Blanco made it clear that Republican votes would be mandatory for these projects to be funded. Heated discussions were help by the Republican caucus, but with the Governor’s threats hanging over their heads, any hope for a unified opposition vote started to crumble.

Republicans neutered themselves by some degree in making wild eyed spending in Baton Rouge a major campaign issue in the coming fall elections. Like it or not, the Governor still calls the shots when it comes to spending. Will the next Governor give more opportunities to the legislature in controlling their own agenda? Don’t count on it.

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“Good thing we’ve still got politics — finest form of free entertainment ever invented.” –the late Molly Ivins

5 Responses
  1. Couldn’t find any other address:On your show on Tuesday you said you were interested in finding out about some local military personnel serving overseas. Our daughter is in the Navy on the destroyer O’Kane in the Persian Gulf heading to Singapore,hongKong, and back to Pearl harbor in August.
    THere are several other sailors from La. on the ship. We’ve sent her some hot sauce, Zapps, bubble gum, and beef jerkey several times and she sure enjoys hearing from folks at home. Having a family member overseas gives these patriotic holidays a new meaning! Her address is FC3 Hoover, Melissa L. CF04 Division, USS O”Kane DDG 77, FPO AP 96674- 1295.Thanks for thinking of the troops! SH

  2. Thanks for lifting the veil on the rhetoric, Jim. It’s so refreshing to have someone like you keeping tabs and reporting on what’s really going on in Baton Rouge. With the fall elections getting into full swing, you may want to look into one of the key issues I’ll be addressing in my campaign: Ethics Reform! Another failure of this session. I’ve signed on with Louisiana Ethics #1 and challenge every candidate running to do the same. Keep telling it like it is, Jim!

  3. Governor Kathleen Blanco against tipitinas. Terrible!!! She needs to realize how many poor people have used their services which are needed to help them with resumes, computer knowledge, copyright, music business, etc. This is an educational institution that is up on teaching success for its clients. I thought she was for education!!!

    Susie Labry
    lasunshinebr@yahoo.com

  4. Walter Brock

    Jim:
    I enjoy reading your weekly column but hate reading it on my computer screen. Please add a feature which will allow a “printer friendly” version of the weekly column.
    Thanks

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