State Rep. Brett Geymann said he will keep a close watch on how Louisiana spends any federal aid related to COVID-19. He told the Republican Women of Southwest Louisiana Thursday that spending one-time money on recurring expenses leaves the state vulnerable for a financial shortfall.
Jay Dardenne, commissioner of administration for Gov. John Bel Edwards, is set to start budget negotiations with the Legislature today. The spring legislative session kicks off April 12.
“I’m probably going to be in the middle of that real quick,” said Geymann, R-Moss Bluff. “For me personally, the budget has always been my wheelhouse.”
Geymann, who represented House District 35 from 2004-2016, is returning to the Capitol after being unopposed for the Feb. 6 election. The seat was left vacant in December after Stephen Dwight was elected District Attorney.
During his early years in the state House, Geymann said he took issue with how Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration spent federal funding that was tied to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, storms that made landfall in 2005.
“We grew government at 14 percent,” he said. “The economy only grows by 2-3 percent. I said, ‘We can’t grow at 14 percent and sustain that.’ ”
Geymann said the green energy movement is “a threat to the oil industry” and said he wants to protect the oil and gas industry.
With redistricting being another big issue this session, Geymann said there is concern among the Southwest Louisiana delegation on how the district lines will be redrawn.
“We’ve grown so much here in Southwest Louisiana,” he said. “I think all of us are going to have to get smaller in size because of (that), so, it’s going to be a challenge for us. We want to make sure whatever we propose and support will be the best thing for this corner of the state.”
Geymann said he’s looking forward to talks of restructuring Louisiana’s tax system.
“I think that discussion needs to start,” he said. “It’s going to be a hot topic that comes up.”
Geymann said he prefers having a toll road for a newly-built Interstate 10 bridge, rather than an increase in the state’s gasoline tax. State Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, is pushing legislation to increase the gas tax, which currently sits at 38.4 cents a gallon, including the 20-cent state tax and 18.4-cent federal tax. Historically, proposed gasoline tax hikes have been unsuccessful at the Legislature.
“I think it’s a very difficult time right now for people to be thinking about having to pay more,” Geymann said. “I would suspect that it would have a hard time catching on.”
Returning as a House lawmaker is an honor, Geymann said. He acknowledged that while he has experience with some lawmakers, many will be new faces.
“There’s a whole new group of people I’ve never met,” Geymann said. “I’m going to remain humble and use my experience where I can.”
Geymann will serve on the House Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources and Environment Committee.