Only Way to Control Spending: Refuse to Raise Taxes
Here’s a word for fiscal conservatives in the Louisiana Legislature who are concerned about the state’s fiscal crisis and the looming possibility of a budget deficit. There is only one way in Louisiana to control spending, and that is by refusing to raise taxes.
If you raise taxes, they will spend every penny of what you raise and then point to all the unmet needs and demand more taxes! But if you refuse to raise taxes, the Governor will cut the budget and balance it.
He has to. He has no choice!
An unbalanced budget and deficit spending are common at the federal level, because there is no prohibition on deficits in the U.S. Constitution.
But Louisiana is completely different. The Louisiana Constitution of 1974 requires a balanced state budget and prohibits deficit spending. Furthermore, the way the Constitution is set up, while it is almost impossible for the legislature to cut the budget, it is a certainty that that the budget will always be in balance.
Here’s how it works. The Louisiana Constitution establishes the Fiscal Estimating Committee which estimates projected revenue for the coming fiscal year. The governor is then required by the Constitution to submit a balanced budget to the legislature, based on that revenue estimate.
The legislature is then prohibited from passing a budget which is in a deficit position. If the legislature does pass a budget which is out of balance, the Constitution requires the governor to exercise his line item veto and cut a sufficient amount to put the budget back in balance.
If all that fails and we still have a budget deficit, the Constitution prohibits the state government from issuing bonds (that is, going into debt) to fund a deficit.
With that in mind, it is clear there is only one real way to make sure spending is kept under control: Refuse to raise taxes!
If the legislature refuses to raise taxes, spending will be cut so that it will not exceed revenue.
Holding down spending in Louisiana is easy: Just don’t raise taxes!