How are the fiscal cliff negotiations going? Slowly, say both Speaker Pro-Tem Walt Leger and Appropriations chair Cameron Henry.
"Although we've had what I think are productive conversations, we still have a long way to go before we get to a place where we can have a special session before the regular and solve this budget cliff," Leger says.
And Henry observes, "Being able to tie every member down of what they want to do is obviously very difficult."
That may be one of the only things Leger, a Democrat, and Henry, a Republican, agree on right now. Henry is urging his group to wait and see what the federal tax reforms will do.
"We have to make sure we really have all the specific details of what they're going to do in D.C., as well as what members are comfortable with here," Henry explains. "One of the problems we run into is we don’t want to change something here on the state level or agree to change something and have the feds change something.
"We could get a few people to agree on one particular tax bracket change, or one particular deduction, but then the feds alter it at the federal level, and then we have to go back and change our plan again. And it's a complicated issue on a good day."
Leger disagrees with Henry's assessment, and the plan of inaction.
"There are some impacts that the tax changes in Washington can have on our bottom line — especially because of the fact that we have the deduction of federal taxes paid here in Louisiana — but for the most part, these solutions are not difficult," Leger states.
Leger notes that the changes needed to Louisiana's tax code have been fully researched and documented by a blue ribbon panel, whose report issued earlier this year echoed similar studies done by economists and legislative study groups during prior years.
"I hope that they're not looking for some new excuse to not do the things we need to do here in Louisiana, by citing what's happening in Congress," Leger says of the House members who closely follow Henry's lead.
"You know, I don't think that the people of Louisiana are counting on Congress to solve our problems. I think they’re counting on the Legislature."