House Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry said that he was eager to get the budget bill out of the House and on to the Senate. A final plan will be hashed out between the two chambers once they have their own versions in place. The legislation had to start in Henry's committee though, under the legislative rules.It's hard to blame him. The governor did call everybody up to Baton Rouge during Mardi Gras to work on all this stupid budget stuff. On the other hand, he did try to make it as easy as possible. Seems kind of spiteful of them not to take advantage of that.
"There's a bigger picture here and I can appreciate no one wants to make cuts," Henry said. "It is a miserable experience. It's not fun."
Disagreements are almost exclusively between the governor and the House Republicans. Edwards wants to use $119.6 million worth of reserve funding, called rainy day money, and avoid cuts to elementary and secondary education, prisons and others areas. The rest of his plan reduces spending by about $60 million and moves money around in the budget.Problem there is "long term change" in their minds just means deeper and more permanent cuts to vital services. Hospitals, higher ed, K-12 funding are all (again) on the chopping block.
House GOP leaders are less inclined to use rainy day money. They say that's a short-term fix that doesn't address Louisiana's continuing financial turmoil. They want larger and more permanent spending cuts, for long-term change.
The House GOP plan that was approved Friday would make use of $75 million of rainy day money. It includes $55 million more in cuts than the governor's plan, for a total of $115 million worth of cuts overall.Funny thing about that, though. Henry's plan isn't to stop spending the money we don't have. It's more about pretending we have more money than we do... in order to cut that too.
"What we must do is attempt to stop spending more money than we have," Henry said.
Proponents of the plan to use the money from vacant positions discussed on the floor some 1,750 state government jobs that they say are funded but not filled.The House being the House, though, went ahead and passed the "fake money" budget. Every Republican (plus Neil Abramson, of course) voted for it. Today, the Senate will try to fix whatever it can of the mess. We'll see how that goes.
Democrats questioned whether the money actually exists in those agencies budgets after an earlier round of cuts.
"That money's not real," said Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin. "There's not $8 million lying over here or lying over there. That's fake money."
As for us, we're going back out to the parades. Last night while the legislators were arguing over rainy day funds, were standing out in the actual rain watching Oshun and Cleopatra.
St. Mary's here is the only picture I managed to get during Oshun. It was raining a lot. Kind of a shame as it looked like this could have been one of the better Oshun parades. Not that that's saying a whole lot. In Oshun's case, it just means it looked like there were more large floats. They do lose points for these corporate branded throws.
Oshun looked like it could have been a pretty good Oshun. Cleopatra looked like it could have been huge. In years previous, you weren't likely to see the Elvi on the first night, for example.
Also Disco Amigos. Sorry about the blurry photos. It was raining a lot.
Not so long ago, these specialized variety acts didn't show up until much later in the week. Lately they've become more of a standard element. They fit Cleopatra's Vegas-type theme, though.
As for the cold and rain, maybe that fit the occasion as well.
Sen. @ReginaBarrow says lawmakers should use full rainy day fund: "We're not in a rain. We're in a hurricane." #lalege— Melinda Deslatte (@MelindaDeslatte) February 18, 2017