Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Welcome back to the Roemer years

Since tonight is evidently 80s nostalgia night, this seems like as good a time as any to say that if you're looking for an historical analog for the state political scene under the next administration, the Roemer years are a pretty good period to familiarize yourself with. 
This isn't to say that John Bel Edwards is anything like Buddy Roemer (although incoming Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is actually a lot like him.) More to the point, though, the circumstances are similar.  Oil prices are depressed.  Unemployment will probably continue to get worse.  The state budget is an unholy wreck and will continue to be so. The coming legislative battles will likely be ugly and dismal.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, in his first news conference as commissioner of administration-designee, acknowledged “we’re going to look” at raising taxes. But he wasn’t specific and underlined that all options are on the table.

Spending cuts are part of the mix, as are rollbacks of some tax breaks, along with a substantial revamp of how the state collects and spends taxpayer dollars, he said. But state government is about $1.9 billion short on revenue, including a gap of up to $750 million that must be bridged by the end of June.

“It’ll be very difficult to do without having some sources of new revenue,” Dardenne said when asked directly how the Edwards administration is going to balance the budget without tax increases.

Dardenne batted back questions about specific taxes that might be in play, repeating that all ideas would be considered.
Shrinking pie. Lots of aggressive stakeholders with plenty to lose.  Doesn't make for the most cordial atmosphere.  Probably not the easiest time to be Governor. By the time the reelection campaign comes around there are bound to be plenty vultures waiting in the wings to take advantage of the situation once so many fresh enemies have been made. Perhaps even the most immediate former Governor.
Our outgoing governor, bless his heart, probably has designs on a return to the mansion. He believes that in the fullness of time Louisiana will come to appreciate his policies and leadership. The draconian cuts, budgetary shell games and hidebound Norquistism will pay off big time. One day. Hence the legacy tour. Hence his statement that he is convinced the state will be better off in 2020 than it is today, even if a Democratic governor succeeds him. Jindal gave up on one set of delusions in Iowa, and returned to nurture his Louisiana delusions, and they are nothing to sneeze at. I think his 'long view' entails even another gubernatorial run. Oh goody.

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