State Budget and Taxation
In my observation of the workings of the Louisiana state legislature, most legislative staff, and many legislators, do not seem to grasp the big picture. They see bits and pieces but do not really understand how the parts fit together as a whole. Too often, the legislator voting on a large economic development bill has not read the bill and does not understand its true impact. The fact is every dollar spent in one place means one less dollar available to be used elsewhere; this simple accounting principle should be considered throughout the process, but often is not.
The inevitable result of this poor planning is gridlock, unexpected consequences, and panicky spending cuts in all the wrong places. If budgets were carefully created using a system of priorities and a "first things first" mentality, these negative outcomes could be avoided.
Louisiana has the money. What our state lacks is fiscal discipline.
Ask anyone running a home: Money going out has to be balanced by money coming in. No "wish list" exists when it comes to balancing a family budget. The money is either there or it is not there; however, with a little planning, financial goals can be reached. Reality and common sense must prevail.
Moreover, every dollar of government spending must be paid for by one dollar of taxation or by the depletion of Louisiana's natural resources. Every dollar spent beyond what is necessary for public works and education is taken from the taxpayers, their employers, and their community. Those who have a personal and a direct investment in the outcome will spend these dollars more efficiently. Tax dollars should not be spent by those who suffer no penalty for bad performances and who use poor results as justification for more spending.
Louisiana does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. When times were good and the coffers full, we did not invest in infrastructure and critical services. We spent as though Hurricane Relief money was going to be with us forever. We threw money away on discretionary and pork projects that made us look good but neglected the real needs of our state. These types of poorly planned expenditures do not reflect responsible government, or good stewardship of the taxpayers' money but, rather, a betrayal of trust.
We must balance the budget, cut non-essential services, and get our spending addiction under control. Any proposed budget should be open to public inspection and evaluation. Why? Because every dollar wasted hurts employers, working people and families-the people who really make the state run. Citizens are entitled and have the right to know how their tax money will be spent.
If a budget crisis arises, the first solution offered is usually more taxes. Such a shortsighted approach does not offer long-term growth. In contrast, I will consider common-sense approaches to balancing our state budget and managing our financial obligations while being a responsible steward of public money.