|Jack Donahue Newsletter 12-6-2006|
|Tuesday, December 05 2006 - 8:00 pm|
Yesterday, the Revenue Estimating Conference approved the expenditure of $1.6 billion in recurring revenues for the extraordinary session set to begin on Friday. This is our budget surplus at the present time; however, it could grow much higher before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2007.
In my view, this money needs to be allocated very wisely. We cannot squander this tremendous opportunity by hastily convening a session of the legislature to dole out the money for political purposes. Unfortunately, rather than exercising caution, the Governor and some legislators are grandstanding and trying to commandeer this session for purely political purposes.
Our state budget is $27 billion and has tripled in the last fifteen years. At the same time, our population has stagnated and our business climate has worsened. Spending money without a careful analysis of priorities is not the best answer for Louisiana. It has not worked in the past and will not work this time.
I recommend that we convene a bi-partisan task force of business and community leaders and fiscal experts to carefully examine the needs in the state and then recommend to the Governor and legislature exactly how the money should be spent. There is no need to rush and spend the surplus now; rather, we should wait until the regular session in April to take carefully planned action. Usually in Louisiana politics, budget surpluses burn a hole in the pockets of legislators and are spent foolishly. We are getting ready to make that same mistake again.
We need to take advantage of this surplus to benefit all citizens instead of playing politics by rewarding one group or another. Instead of revisiting our error-filled history, let's cancel this ill-conceived and poorly planned special session, regroup and prioritize how to best spend $1.6 billion in ways that will grow our economy and make this state a safer and better place to live, work and raise our families.