These magnolia trees have been at #lalege since inauguration. Now they are dying because no one ever planted them. pic.twitter.com/Vzfdx583Dq— Elizabeth Crisp (@elizabethcrisp) June 8, 2016
Between the rebels in the House and the various rogue Governors running around, John Bel Edwards has pretty much gotten his butt kicked all over the place his first six months in office. So far we've seen one special session fail to fix a budget shortfall, a regular session that failed to deliver a capital outlay budget at all, and special session part two looks like it's unraveling right out of the gate.
The governor wants to approve $600 million in taxes to prevent cuts to the TOPS scholarship program, K-12 schools, public colleges and universities, safety net hospitals and the state prison system. Edwards has made this pitch in private meetings with lawmakers in recent days and again in a joint address to the House and Senate on Tuesday morning.It's not easy when you're negotiating with people who don't actually care whether anything gets funded so long as their wealthy friends and backers are protected. But the game here is to beat those people. And so far Governor Edwards hasn't figured out how to do it.
But the governor ran into a wall of opposition among Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee to his proposals that would raise individual income taxes by taking away tax deductions or by changing tax brackets.
Republicans used their 12-7 majority on the committee to keep those tax measures from advancing.
All three of them would have hit upper- and middle-income taxpayers in the pocketbook, in a state where the poor pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.
Not advancing was House Bill 11. It would limit the deduction on state income taxes that individuals can claim from the itemized deductions they take on their federal tax returns that are in excess of the federal standard deduction. Under the proposal by state Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, taxpayers would be allowed to take 57.5 percent of the deduction, instead of 100 percent today. The change would raise $116 million.
A study by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based group, shows that taxpayers who earn more than $103,000 would shoulder 76 percent of the tax increase.
Thus we witness his failure to rein in the school voucher program or pass a minimum wage increase or equal pay law. On top of that, consider Edwards's decision to sign the absurd "Blue Lives Matter" bill as well as the most heinous abortion restriction passed by any state this year and, well, the bloom really does fall off the magnolia tree pretty quickly.
Were it not for the Medicaid expansion, one wonders if things would be any different at all now if we had just elected David Vitter.
Update: The good news is they seem to have rescued the trees. So score one for Governor Edwards today. He needed that.