News and Events

A Ship of Fools Sailing Nowhere


The Advocate


June 6, 2018


Partisan divisions have not seeped but flooded into Louisiana's governing processes in a way that few would have predicted only a couple of years ago, as yet another collapse of a special legislative session in Baton Rouge this week made clear. Since the election of Gov. John Bel Edwards in late 2015, the ordinary wrangles over taxes and budgets have been elevated into political warfare, with the GOP leadership of the House in last-ditch opposition to the governor and to their own Republican colleagues in the Senate, who brokered a compromise with Edwards.

That was rejected at midnight on Monday, forcing yet another special session that appears inevitable. The debate is over a relatively small amount of money in the renewal of some taxes; the sales tax difference is 17 cents on a $100 purchase.

In the meantime, the public is being ill-served. Compromise shouldn't be a dirty word, but the House leadership seems unwilling to accept anything that can be construed as a political win for Edwards, who is, after all, allied with Republicans in the Senate. Edwards certainly hasn't done everything right, but the House leaders appear to be fighting an ideological battle with precious little regard for the consequences for the people of Louisiana.

As taxpayers face uncertainty about basic state services, families agonize about the future of TOPS and the cost of college, and Louisiana's most vulnerable citizens confront continuing anxiety about critical lifelines of support, the Legislature's own operating budget seems more or less intact. It's a telling sign of where legislators' priorities are - a reality already made obvious by their willingness to waste an estimated $60,000 a day on six special sessions in two years that have done virtually nothing to advance Louisiana's future.

Conscience should compel lawmakers to forego their pay for perpetuating this fiasco, but then again, if a moral compass were guiding this bunch, we wouldn't be in such a mess to start with.

''Zero leadership,'' state Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, said of the session.''There is no leadership.''

''I'm really disappointed in the whole process,'' said state Rep.Andy Anders, a Vidalia Democrat who serves as dean of the House.

''This is beyond ridiculous,'' added Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner.

They are surely not alone in that assessment.

Our ship of fools is rudderless, and it's time for the people, through their collective outrage, to save it from the shoals of crisis.

- Advocate editorial staff


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