The Governor and House Republican leaders met behind closed doors this morning and again this afternoon – and ultimately cancelled scheduled public discussion in the House Appropriations Committee.
Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry’s budget-cutting bills, as filed, are identical to those filed by Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger – a looking glass image, so to speak. Curious, since Leger, a Democrat, wrote his bills in accordance with the governor’s plan for dealing with the shortfall. Yet only the Republican Henry’s bills are set to be heard when the committee finally meets. What’s going on here?
For the record, nobody is talking publicly -- except A.G. Jeff Landry. I sat down with him yesterday afternoon, and the often excitable Landry was curiously mellow while talking about the cuts from his office’s statutory dedications.
“We put out several press releases that identify the impact that the Governor’s decision to basically raid our funding will cause,” he said, without rancor.
As for the proposal to pull nearly 4 million dollars from an escrow account within the A.G.’s office, Landry seemed unfazed.
“That is an escrow account this office has consistently used to offset the cost of litigation in going after industries or companies that are basically defrauding the state or withholding money that belongs to the state.”
The same measure grabs $8-million that had been set aside to build a new office for the Legislative Auditor, and Landry attempted to paint the reassignment of those two funding streams as the same thing, i.e., poor policy choices for overall governmental ethics.
“It is questionable as to why, when you look at the two agencies – either me or the Legislative Auditor, two offices that really have tremendous oversight in trying to rein in government abuse.”
It appears Landry expects the Republican-authored bills to change – in his favor. Meanwhile, the Democrat-authored pair is available to move, should negotiations between the Governor and GOP lawmakers fall apart.