Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 3:44 am
Gov. Bobby Jindal called members of the capitol press corps into his office Thursday, sitting down with them to give his impressions of the first week of the session. He spent much of the time speaking of his support for Rep. Mike Johnson’s HB 707.
“This bill simply prevents the state from discriminating against Christians and others with traditional views of marriage,” Jindal stated. “It’s hard for me to see why anybody would be opposed to that.”
While the Senate Finance Committee began working through the budget Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee was taking public testimony on it.
“Thank you for coming today for this testimony,” Appropriations chair Jim Fannin said in welcome, noting the weather made it more difficult than usual for many who turned up to add their input to the process. “We are appreciative for that,” he said.
Much of the public testimony went as expected: requests for higher allocations to cover jobs and services.
Bobby Jindal addresses the Louisiana legislature one last time as governor, kicking off the 2015 legislative session.
It’s a fiscal session, so lawmakers will be focused on finding solutions to close a $1.6 billion budget gap, with the future of higher education and healthcare services at stake. The governor has already made his “guardrails” clear: he won’t accept any tax increases.
Beyond the budget, Jindal is aiming to yank Common Core education standards from Louisiana’s public schools. And he’s looking to frame the debate around a religious freedom bill filed in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling on the marriage of same-sex couples.
With host Amy Jeffries, Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, and political scientist Robert Hogan provide context and analysis as Gov. Bobby Jindal lays out his agenda for the 2015 legislative session.
The 2015 legislative session convenes today, with just 60 days to solve a one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit. Has it ever been this bad?
“We’ve gone through this a couple of other times; the Arab oil embargo in the early 80s, and then also in the middle 90s when Roemer was governor,” House Clerk Butch Speer recalls. “We had those two crises, and they were actually worse than this one. Certainly in the middle 90s we were over a billion dollars short. We’re a billion and a half now, but the budget is 6, 8 times as large now.”
Louisiana’s House Appropriations Committee has been asking every agency to present their worst-case scenario when showing up for budget hearings. Wednesday, the committee got the grim prognosis—full force—from higher education.
“Higher education would be reduced by $600-million. That’s an 82-percent reduction from 14-15,” legislative budget analyst Willis Brewer stated.
The budget is the big issue when the legislature convenes next week, and the administration is placing heavy emphasis on GEMS initiatives.
“GEMS” is the acronym for Government Efficiencies Management Support”, which is the title of the efficiency report commissioned last year from the consulting firm of Alvarez and Marsal. Although the report wasn’t delivered till the very end of last year’s session, lawmakers were loudly skeptical of the cost of the contract to provide the report, and the savings promised by Alvarez and Marsal.
The Louisiana survey takes the pulse of the people every year about major policy issues facing the state. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab has been rolling out the results of this year’s edition.
Research Director Michael Henderson agrees public opinion is leaving lawmakers between a rock and a hard place when it comes to closing the state budget hole. As for state services, the public gives the colleges and universities particularly high marks. And though a majority still opposes it, there's slowly growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.