I’ve just returned from attending the Red, White and Blue Salute to our Legislative Delegation hosted by SWLA Economic Development Alliance at the Blue Dog Cafe. I was quite surprised by the things I learned and slightly satisfied knowing that all of the members of SWLA delegation are in proximity of where I am on the results of the regular session and two special sessions of 2016. Before I get into the details, I have some housekeeping and shout outs to get out of the way.
First, the food at Blue Dog Cafe, as always, was off the chain. They offer a number of signature dishes that, over the years, many restaurants have tried to copy. They can’t.
Second, I had the pleasure of visiting with Eligha Guillory and his lovely wife, Nomica. If you have never had the opportunity to be in a room with Nomica, forget making an impression on anyone. Oh Em Gee! She owns the room. The beautiful Mrs. Guillory was Mrs. Louisiana, 2006.
Last, but not least, I was a bit startled by the number of people who knew me. I knew who they were, but we never actually met. I’m just a public school educator who writes about the driving forces behind the destruction of public education. Apparently, people read my blog. Who knew?
The first thirty minutes, or so, was just mingling around and socializing. When they were ready to get the ball rolling, everyone shuffled into the banquet room. Legislative attendees included Representatives Michael Danahay (D) and Mark Abraham (R) and Senators Ronnie Johns (R) and Dan Morrish (R). Absent were Representatives Stephen Dwight (R) and A.B. Franklin (D).
They each had an opportunity to talk for a few minutes about their individual involvement in committees during the regular session, and the continued work in the special session. Senator Johns explained to me afterwards that the interests of the SWLA delegation are varied, so they decided beforehand which committees they would request so that SWLA could be represented across the board.
Senator Morrish, who happens to be my senator, went first. After twenty years in the legislature, he served for the first time, on the education committee…as chairman. I had the pleasure of working with Senator Morrish, and his staff, and I testified in front of his committee several times during the regular session. He spoke briefly about the outcomes regarding education. Inevitably, his conversation turned to the budget. He spoke briefly, but deferred to the other delegates because their committee involvement was much more closely related to the budget.
Representatives Danahay and Abraham served on the House and Governmental Affairs committee and the House Appropriations committee, respectively. Senator Johns served on the Senate Finance committee. They each spoke briefly about the budgeting process and the role of their committee.
I won’t go to much into detail about what they each said. Their individual speeches weren’t what threw me and peaked my interest. It was the common denominator that they each referred to about where we are now, and where we need to go. First and foremost, it was apparent to me that they all support the governor and his efforts. They also support Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne. They concurred that Louisiana has not had an honest budget, at this level. Individually, they each alluded to the small group of legislators who continued to say no to revenue and yes to cuts, cuts and more cuts.
The following is my understanding of what was said and paraphrased. It shouldn’t be taken as quotes. Speaking from a business owners point of view, Abraham stated that even in business and industry there will always be waste. The idea that waste can be cut to zero is a fallacy, even in business. At some point, you have to accept that quality of service is suffering, and the only answer is raise revenue.
It is generally accepted by members of both the Senate and the House that it is necessary to revise our tax structure, and the level in which Louisiana incentivizes business is 4-5 times greater than other states, and must be revisited. What is unknown is whether, or not, that small group of legislators will continue to say no, or jump on board. What is apparent to me is that we have a problem that needs to be solved. If you are going to continue to shoot down every solution offered; then the next time you come to the table, you’d better bring a solution.