LaPolitics by Maginnis: Closing money moves made
"We will have a budget. We go through this every year," Gov. Bobby Jindal said recently during a rare House appearance to honor retiring Supreme Court Chief Justice Kitty Kimball. He's right in that the end game is shaping up to be the same as in recent years, but both the Senate and the House are working on a few new plays. In short order on Thursday, the Senate passed the appropriations bill, the "funds sweep" bill, the capital outlay bill and a resolution to use the so-called rainy day fund to fill the current year deficit. There seems to be majority sentiment in the House to pass the budget with funding it earlier had cut and the Senate later restored. The question is whether the House will concur right off on Senate amendments or send the bill to conference committee, if only to have some voice in fashioning what mainly is now an administration/Senate bill. In their opposition to spending one-time money and dedicated funds, outnumbered fiscal hawks (mostly Republicans who are not committee chairmen) hold a couple of trump cards on measures that require two-thirds approval. One is the rainy day fund resolution, which the Appropriations Committee met and passed after the House adjourned Thursday night, sending it to the House floor. But the conservatives haven't an alternative for filling a $210 million hole in one month. Failing to get a two-thirds vote, the House could do nothing and address the deficit later this year when the state's books are closed. The other tool conservatives have is House Bill 3, which authorizes the state to borrow money to fund most of the construction budget and requires a two-thirds vote. That high bar offers conservatives more leverage as Monday adjournment nears. The Senate made a countermove on Thursday by amending the substance of HB 3 into HB 2 and passing the bill, 36-0, leaving just one step to final passage. It will still take a two-thirds vote in the House, but to block the combined bill conservatives would be putting ongoing construction projects and jobs in their districts in immediate jeopardy. That is something local voters might not appreciate on a matter of fiscal principle. "We just want to give the House the opportunity to finish," said bill author Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia. Indeed, we go through this every year, but always a little differently.
They said it: "You sleep with 'em." —Former Gov. Edwin Edwards on finding a use for Republicans (his wife Trina is one), in The Times-Picayune
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)
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