CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP IN THE LEGISLATURE: THE CLOCK IS TICKING
BATON ROUGE – With thirty-seven days left in the session, the Louisiana legislature continues to flounder, scrambling to address the GOP budget disaster that has created a $1.6 billion deficit without anything resembling a coherent plan or competent leadership. While the Republican candidates for governor crisscross Louisiana trying to sell themselves to voters as the next Bobby Jindal, not one of them has offered any leadership to pull our state back from the edge of the fiscal cliff. Senate President John Alario and Rep. Chuck Kleckley, Speaker of the House, continue to lurch from one poorly thought-out half-measure to another, without any overarching plan for solving the fiscal crisis GOP policies have inflicted on our state.
The session is evaporating, and time is at a premium. Rep. John Bel Edwards voiced his concern yesterday, noting that even at this late hour: “There is no coherent strategy.” GOP plans to shift the burden of paying for their budget disaster onto local governments are unlikely to produce even a fraction of the needed revenue, and any hope of easing the strain by finally expanding Medicaid has been pushed off until at least next year.
And through it all, none of the GOP leaders— neither those sitting in the legislature three days a week, nor the officials currently shirking their elected positions to run for higher office, have offered any real leadership. “State Republicans created this disaster,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The GOP put us in this mess, and the GOP leaders who control the legislature are ignoring their responsibility to offer solutions. They have failed the test of leadership. With each day that passes, their failure becomes that much more acute, and that much more painful for Louisiana families.”