Edwards called Seabaugh’s comments a “bitter, partisan attack.”Yeah well good luck with that. The budget crisis may be a Jindal era leftover but that hasn't discouraged Republicans (and others) from making sure it becomes Edwards's problem rather than theirs. They've had almost no political incentive to cooperate with him in good faith. Instead we've seen a series of insincere political postures from Governor Kennedy, Governor Landry, and yesterday, Governor Abramson.
“When he had the chance to do his part, he sat on the sidelines. He would neither identify cuts to make to stabilize the budget, nor would he support raising additional revenue. He said ‘no’ to every single possible solution without offering any of his own,” Edwards wrote in the Tuesday editorial.
“Rep. Seabaugh needs to look no further than his own voting record when he decides to place blame for the continuation of these problems and the lack of funding for critical programs in this area, like TOPS and the medical school, and I will not let him distract from the work that so many other bold leaders, in both parties, from this region are willing to do,” Edwards continued.
Governor Kennedy is running for Senate. Governor Landry is running for... well.. Governor, eventually. And Governor Abramson is probably running for State Senate in a conservative district. All of those guys have a greater political incentive to distinguish themselves as enemies of the Governor than they do to actually resolve the budget problem. In fact, the longer the crunch persists, the easier it is to pin everyone's woes on Governor Edwards.
All Edwards has going into the special session is the faint hope of offering TOPS as a carrot to Republicans in some sort of bargain to raise revenues.
The budget passed by the Legislature on Sunday night funds only half of the TOPS scholarship program while five safety net hospitals are short $100 million and the state’s colleges and universities are missing $55 million if they were to receive as much next year as they got this year. The budget also cuts spending for K-12 school spending by $44 million — the first reduction from one year to the next in decades — and does not contain money to open the new $24 million Acadiana Center for Youth, a 72-bed facility in Bunkie.Already, though, it's clear that won't be enough.
Edwards is asking lawmakers to raise more money by eliminating tax breaks for individuals and corporations and by raising a tax on insurance companies. In all, he wants to fill what he says is a $600 million gap.
“I would like to fund TOPS at 100 percent,” said state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, who chairs the budget-writing committee. “But TOPS is only short this year. Do you permanently raise income taxes to fund TOPS this year?”And the reason for that should be obvious as well. The Republicans don't actually have to fund TOPS in order to win the issue politically. All they have to do is complain that the Governor failed to do it for them. Yesterday's HB2 fiasco as well as the ridiculous way the earlier special session ended demonstrate quite clearly that the conservatives are well dug in against this Governor. And that's how they're going to beat him.
The answer for Henry is definitely no.