SEN PASSES HB-1 Yesterday members of Louisiana's senate passed what many have called "a pretend budget" anticipating it will become something else because of drastic cuts made to state agencies to save safety net hospitals and financially vulnerable nursing home residents. While no one fully supports the budget, Democratic Senator Eric LaFleur of Ville Platte told members on the floor yesterday that its passing underscores the real needs of the state by saying "...what our priorities are and just how bad the problem is now.”
Still, others like Senator JP Morrell (D-New Orleans) say this budget sends the wrong message to the very people who depend on state services that are being cut. " because though we fund them in the bill as it is structured, we unfund a tremendous amount of other things that are equally important to get there.”
And there are those Senate members who feel passing HB-1 only feeds into the political play with the House Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) begged members not to pass the budget.“We can’t get Senate bills to move over there unless HB 1 gets sent to them. It’s foolishness and people deserve better," But many in the Senate believe passing a budget in this session is part of their job.The Senate also spelled out ways they’d be willing to consider raising revenue in the upcoming special session, like keeping a portion of the one cent in sales tax that’s expiring, or adjusting some tax incentive programs. Because all revenue-raising measures have to start in the House, the Senate’s hands are tied when it comes to addressing the budget shortfall.
Sen. Norby Chabert (R-Houma) says this resolution allows them to make their intentions clear.“That budget, whether you want to call it immoral or pathetic or cockamamie or make-believe or pretend," he said, "this resolution says ‘that ain’t the end of it. That ain’t where we want to be.” And so Louisiana Lawmakers will close the regular session this Friday... after that they will move into a special session beginning next week.