Cameron Henry

legis.la.gov

“We are sitting here with a fourth of the state budget in front of us, and there is nothing we can do to adjust that for the next two years? I find that breathtakingly hard to comprehend,” House Appropriations chair Cameron Henry said, as he led the blockade of contract extensions for managed-care companies coordinating the state’s Medicaid services.


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Louisiana’s Joint Budget Committee meets today to vote on two-year contract extensions for the state’s Medicaid-managed care organizations.

“Why two years? Because we have made dramatic changes to these contracts, not just tweaks,” Health Secretary Rebekah Gee explained when lawmakers began debating the extensions two weeks ago.


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How should Louisiana solve for its upcoming $1.4-billion fiscal cliff? This time last year, hopes focused on the work of the Tax Structure Task Force and its recommendations. But as House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger said on “Talk Louisiana”, we all know how that turned out.


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The approaching fiscal cliff has prompted a whole lot of meetings lately – behind closed doors.

“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to get it done, working with these business roundtable meetings and the legislative leadership in both the House and the Senate,” Governor John Bel Edwards said, following his meeting with business leaders in Bossier City last week.

In the past month, he has also met with business owners and representatives in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Houma, and New Orleans. However, House Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry isn’t favorably impressed.

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Now that we’ve established that many state lawmakers suffer from fiscal myopia, are they doing any envisioning – however fuzzy the view – toward Louisiana’s future? Representative Steve Carter, a Baton Rouge Republican, says it’s not the first time he’s been asked that question.


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Having worn glasses since I was six years old, I'm very familiar with myopia, which is also known as nearsightedness. Lately it seems some lawmakers have it, too, when it comes to Louisiana's fiscal issues.


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A somber mood dominated the Capitol Wednesday, following the early morning news that Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise had been shot.


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“The more we fund this year, the bigger the fiscal cliff is going to be next year. And we can’t sustain more taxes. It’s irresponsible!”

Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) summed up the thinking of a majority of House Appropriations committee members, as special session budget hearings began where the regular session left off – with a bill that doesn’t spend all the estimated revenue.


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It appeared no lawmakers wanted a special session, so when Appropriations chair Cameron Henry told the House there was no budget deal – with 30 minutes left on the regular session clock -- the end of the regular session turned into something resembling a bench-clearing brawl.


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“I would ask that you reject House Bill 1 and sent it to conference.”

And, as usual, the House has refused to concur with the Senate changes to the budget, HB 1, but Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry says that’s a normal part of the process: “House Bill 1 always goes to conference.”


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