State legislator Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 6:41 PM
The epicenter of fiscal conservatism in Louisiana can be found in Moss Bluff, not the governor’s mansion.
State legislator Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, is leading the charge to inject more sanity into the process that crafts the state budget.
He’s launched a campaign to convince his colleagues in the House and state senators to rethink how the state spends its money.
At the heart of Geymann’s quest is a stem-to-stern review of the state budget and an establishment of spending priorities.
Geymann readily admits that legislators work at a disadvantage when it comes to the budget because in its entirety, it’s impossible to digest during the annual regular session. The by-product is that they are often bystanders to the governor’s wishes.
Louisiana governors have traditionally kept legislators in line by approving plum committee assignments, spending projects in legislators’ home districts and other perks like prime parking spaces and living quarters during the session.
Geymann has eschewed most of that. He resigned his spot on the House Natural Resources Committee so he can focus on the House Appropriations Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget,
which oversee the state budget. He’s given up other perks so they can’t be held over his head.
He’s now inviting colleagues and organizations to join his crusade. In theory, it shouldn’t be hard to gather converts. Good government groups like the Council for a Better Louisiana, Blueprint for Louisiana and the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana should embrace his efforts.
As for other state lawmakers, who would oppose Geymann’s concept of prioritizing spending and deleting inefficient spending so that taxpayers’ money is spent appropriately? It’s about good stewardship. Geymann also wants to wean the governor and Legislature from using one-time money to plug holes in the state budget.
He believes setting priorities in spending means putting health care and higher education, often the whipping boys when it comes to budget cuts, at the top of the priority list, not the bottom.
And it means bringing a more disciplined approach to the state’s capital outlay spending. The state should fund projects that result in jobs, roads and infrastructure. It should help out in rural areas where the tax base limits the ability of government entities to pay for critical services like roads, water, drainage and sewerage.
Where the state must draw the line is on luxury items like walking tracks, recreational facilities and artificial turfs for high school football stadiums. There’s nothing wrong with those amenities, but they shouldn’t be approved when their construction takes money away from health care and higher education.
Geymann’s stance makes sense. He’s a little more than halfway to having a majority of House members join the Budget Reform Campaign. The closer the campaign gets to the magical 53 members in the House to join in, the closer he gets to bringing Gov. Bobby Jindal into serious discussions about the group’s ideals and goals.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: J. Dexter Smith On: 8/20/2012
It's about time our legislators started thinking of using the common sense of budgetary responsibility. With our national currency devalued due to the U.S. Treasury simply printing $XXX million in new currency; how then, can a state commit to a budget for a one, two, or four year contract or cost without budget overrun. If the new car that I really want costs $34k and my retirement income as a state retired civil servant with no cost of living increase is $25 per year, I will settle for wisely looking for a 3 year old vehicle similar to the one that cost $34k with low mileage for hopefully less than half that amount and spend $3k on a 4 year extended warranty. Common sense, it goes for individual budgets as well as local, state, and federal budgets. I am proud that at least "some" of our state legislators have common sense. Now, if we could get our federal legislative and executive branch to do the same; I think God might smile upon our nation despite its multitude of wrongs.