25 April 2007

state rep tim burns: will louisiana waste another budget boom?


  • tim burns to announce for congress

  • ----ORIGINAL POST----

    earlier today we received an email from louisiana state representative tim burns (r) mandeville dist 89. we're unsure how we get on all these email mailing lists but rep. burns is pretty cool in that he doesnt bug us with a lot of unnecessary emails. some of these politicians it seems like, email every time the wind changes direction. anyway, heres his email:


    April 25, 2007

    As the legislature sets to convene next week, the main question on everyone’s mind besides much needed insurance reform is money. The good news is that for the first time since the oil bust in the early 1980’s, the state is flushed with money to spend. The bad news perhaps is that it is going to be spent by the governor and the legislature.

    The recent growth in the state budget has been staggering, nearly tripling in the last 10 years to a whopping $29 billion. Yet we have a dismal economy, continue to lose population and generally find ourselves last in education, health care and business climate.

    The following chart indicates the per capita spending of neighboring states, all whose economy and quality of life are substantially better than Louisiana’s. It is almost inconceivable that our state spending is the third highest per capita in the nation, yet we produce such dismal results.

    There are several reasons:

    1) Government, particularly in Louisiana, has been inherently inefficient, delivering services in a model based upon politics rather than policy. Government tends to spend money that benefits public officials politically (and unfortunately sometimes financially), rather than in a strategic manner that gives citizens the best bang for the buck.

    2) Such focus on short term results tends to cluster focus around pet projects and causes, as opposed to comprehensive and long term results.

    3) Consider our deplorable highways, whose main funding source, 16 cents in motor fuel taxes per gallon of gasoline, has remained static for decades despite the massive increase in the size of government. With over a $10 billion backlog in state projects it’s time to divert funds from the state slushpot (also known as the general fund) into highways, as well as coastal restoration and other pressing needs and I will be supporting measures to do just that. But that leaves less for pet projects.

    In December, fiscal conservatives were able to block an increase in the spending cap for a hastily called special session to spend over $2 billion. Today, I feel that some of the surplus should be returned to the citizens who created it by repealing all or part of the Stelly plan and stimulate our economy with some small business tax breaks. Also there are some constitutionally authorized areas which are appropriate for spending another portion of the surplus such as highways, coastal restoration and paying down retirement debt. Our teachers deserve a raise to finally get them to the Southern average and our public safety officials such as police and firemen deserve special consideration particularly due to their fine work during the hurricanes, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to give pay raises to everyone, particularly groups which have enjoyed recent pay increases, and commit more than we can afford in recurring expenses.

    The main question is whether the Governor and the legislature can show fiscal restraint even in an election year with many members either not returning or running for other offices. If we don’t show restraint, we will have yet wasted another budget boom. Stay tuned.

    click here to view from the state legislature website, all house bills filed by rep. tim burns.