Message from Bobby:
Government Out Of Control
With Congress out of session this past week I had a series of great meetings all over Louisiana. My travels took me to Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Monroe, Pineville, Breaux Bridge, Loranger, and multiple other places here at home in the first district.
It was also nice to be in my house for a few days, especially to spend some quality time with the kids.
On Friday morning I got up early - there's really no other option with three kids under six years old - and read the paper.
I wish I hadn't read the paper.
The headline across the top of the page proclaimed that the Road Home program may have a $5 billion deficit. I underline the word "may" because the simple truth is that the numbers coming from the Road Home program seem to change everyday. The debacle would almost be comical if so many lives were not being impacted. Some legislators have called for a complete audit of the program's billions of dollars of expenditures, and I could not agree more.
Then I read an article describing the budget that had just been passed by the Louisiana House. The article is just plain stunning.
The budget passed by the House totals $29.6 billion dollars. This is not a typo, though it should be.
Turn the clock back to 2001 and you will find that year's budget was about $14.1 billion dollars.
This massive increase in government spending cannot be entirely blamed on hurricane recovery efforts.
The simple truth is that government spending is out of control.
From serving in Congress over the past three years I can tell you firsthand that government spending in Washington is out of control. And it appears to be contagious, as Louisiana is also on a spending binge of historic proportions.
There is no individual, no family, and no business that could survive with these unbridled, undisciplined, and irresponsible spending sprees.
And this out of control spending is bipartisan, with plenty of culprits in both parties.
You have all heard of the infamous D.C. earmarks wasting hundreds of millions of our taxpayer dollars.
Louisiana now has its own version of such irresponsible spending proposals. Included in the budget passed last week by the Louisiana House is this little nugget - 1,000 new government jobs.
I could not believe that when I read it, so I made a few calls. Turns out it is true. The House passed the Governor's request to create 1,000 new state government jobs in Louisiana!
These 1,000 new state government jobs are not part of any coherent plan. They are just ... 1,000 new salaries for the taxpayers to fund....every year.
Why not 2,000? Or 3,000? Or 5,000?
Of course, there are many important pieces of the budget, such as the pay increases for our state's teachers, and crucial funding for increased law enforcement to name a few.
But 1,000 new state government jobs? You must be kidding. Giving existing employees raises is one thing, but adding 1,000 brand new government salaries is quite another.
At a time when the state has no approved plan to cover a $5 billion dollar shortfall in the Road Home program, they are planning to create 1,000 new state jobs? Sounds like a hoax, but it is not.
While there is room for 1,000 new government jobs in the budget, there apparently was not room for a significant recurring investment in our roads, for example, by requiring all current gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees be dedicated to roads, or significant tax cuts, for example, attacking the business taxes on debt, utilities, and new equipment, or the individual income taxes raised by the Stelly plan.
An amendment was offered to save almost $9 million of our tax dollars by eliminating pay raises for vacant positions, but even this modest proposal was defeated.
I'm sorry, but this represents both incompetence and irresponsibility.
This has got to stop.
We cannot allow OUR government, both in Washington and Baton Rouge, to spend OUR money in such a cavalier manner.
We now have one chance in our lifetimes to move our state to the top of all those good lists. We have to decide whether we are willing to tolerate business as usual. These spending decisions do not reflect the fundamental new start we must demand if we want our children to pursue their dreams here in Louisiana. We must not spend what may turn out to be onetime dollars on recurring expenditures - creating problems for ourselves in a few years or even sooner - to simply grow the bureaucracy rather than transforming our state.
I have made it clear that I'm not going to get into the legislative disputes in this session of the Louisiana state Legislature. So don't look for me to weigh in on every bill in the Legislature.
But I simply could not hold my tongue on this any longer. Someone has to speak out; someone has to speak up for the taxpayers, for responsible government, and for fiscal sanity.
As the old song says, "The winds of change, they are a blowing," and barely in time I might add.
Louisiana is desperate for real and fundamental change. Louisiana is in dire need of decisive leadership. Louisiana is hungry for competence.
With your help, we will put our great state on a new path, a path to real growth and real reform.
Oh, and one more thing, we will also treat taxpayers' money with respect.