BATON ROUGE – As another day of the 2015 legislative session slips away, the GOP leadership continues to fail the basic test of office by refusing to offer solutions to the staggering challenges presented by the $1.6 billion budgetary nightmare they created. With 36 days left on the clock, Republicans are wasting their time and taxpayers’ money with divisive distractions like making cosmetic adjustments to their discrimination legislation. In what amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, GOP leaders are busying themselves with pet projects and red meat for their special interests while they ignore the looming budget crisis.
An effort today by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, to address both the state deficit and the humanitarian crisis of working Louisianans denied healthcare, met with obstructionism from the GOP. Asking her fellow lawmakers to appreciate the urgency of their constituents needs, Sen. Peterson said: “people are going to die between now and next year,” if Medicaid expansion is passed over once again. “There is probably no bill that I have authored that is more important than this one…because this one is about life or death.”
Dr. Heidi L. Sinclair of Tulane Medical School offered practical reasons to embrace expansion, testifying: “potential state savings, in Louisiana, for uncompensated care would be $187-373 million.” But five Republicans in the legislature ignored the testimony from doctors and the pleading from their constituents, and voted to defer the bill.
Organizations including AARP, Southwest Louisiana Health Education Center and Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, Louisiana Center for Health Equity, Louisiana Budget Project, Louisiana Supported Living Network, Legislative Agenda for Women, Louisiana Progress Action, League of Women Voters, Louisiana Interchurch Conference, AFLCIO, The Links, National Organization for Women, and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops Executive Director all voiced their support for the bill. All of them were ignored by the state GOP.
“People are going to die because Republicans in the legislature refused to act,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The failure of their leadership extends beyond the budget nightmare they created, and into the lives and the livelihoods of Louisiana families. The lack of leadership is costing Louisiana taxpayers dearly.”