Home Opinion-Free Opinion: Lou Burnett – It’s Louisiana’s Turn

Opinion: Lou Burnett – It’s Louisiana’s Turn

It’s Louisiana’s Turn

This Saturday, March 5, voters in the Bayou State will go to the polls to vote in what has been a raucous political circus, better known as the presidential preference primaries.
Four other states – Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, and Nebraska – will also have political caucuses or elections on this same day, so it will be interesting to see how much attention is given to Louisiana by the national news media.

One of the reasons, of course, is that most of the attention will have been focused on Super Tuesday, March 1, where 14 states will have political activity relative to the presidential primaries and as many as 25% of delegates are up for grabs.
For Democrats, 2,382 delegates are needed to secure the nomination. For Republicans, 1,237 delegates are needed. Louisiana has 59 Democratic delegates to be awarded and the Republicans have 46.  They are proportionally awarded to candidates based on the percentage of the vote they receive.

The election Saturday is a closed election.  That means that only registered Democrats will be able to vote for Democratic candidates and only registered Republicans can vote for Republican candidates. No Party/Other Party registrants will not be allowed to vote in either of the party primaries.

As a Republican, you should vote for one of the five remaining candidates – Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, or Donald Trump.  As a Democrat, there are only two main candidates to choose from – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

To be sure, Louisiana has been merely a blip on the radar screens of the candidates and the national news media.  Some candidates have visited the state, but it was mostly for fundraisers or private functions. And very little polling has been done in the state with regard to the presidential race.  Public Policy Polling did survey the Democratic race on February 17. The result was Clinton 60% and Sanders 29%. The last poll taken on the Republican side was back in September by WWL-TV/Clarus.  It had Carson up by four points over Trump.  But Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush were included in the survey.  The three have since dropped out of the race.

A penny for your thoughts?

There are plenty of thoughts likely taking place about a penny among Louisiana voters as a result of the Louisiana House of Representatives approving an additional one cent to the state’s current four-cent sales tax. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards had made the penny increase in sales taxes the cornerstone of his plan for fixing the state’s drastic budget situation.

Republican legislators decided to bite the bullet after scrubbing the budget and cutting everywhere they could.  It was not enough to fulfill the constitutional mandate of a balanced budget. There is a budget hole of $940 million which must be filled by June 30.  Once that’s accomplished, a $2 billion deficit is on tap for the fiscal year which begins July 1.

The passage of the penny tax was a bi-partisan effort.  Republicans demanded that the tax sunset in 18 months and insisted on $101 million more in cuts to which Democrats agreed.  The governor wanted the tax to span five years. To reach a balanced budget by June 30 here’s the deal: $200 million from the additional one-cent sales  tax, $101 million in additional cuts, $200 million from the BP settlement, and $128 million from the Rainy Day Fund.

With those projected revenues, there is still another $211 million which needs to be found to fill the budget gap and balance the budget by June 30.
Other measures will be needed to completely fill the budget hole.  Other taxes are still on the table as well cuts to tax credits provided by the state. To pass the penny tax increase and send it to the Senate, 70 votes were needed from among the 105 House members.

How did area representative vote?  Voting for the tax increase were Reps. Larry Bagley (R), Thomas Carmody (R), Cedric Glover (D), Sam Jenkins (D), Barbara Norton (D), Gene Reynolds (D), and Alan Seabaugh (R). Only two area reps voted against – Dodie Horton (R) and Jim Morris (R). Following the vote, the governor said: “I know it was not easy for anyone to vote to raise revenue.”

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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