From Shreveport on the Red River to St. Bernard Parish by the Mighty Mississippi, political games threatened important projects in the chaos of the last hours of the 2023 Legislature.
As the last-minute dealmaking unfolded, money was cut as apparent retribution against those who failed to back the House leadership — an inter-Republican fight — on key budget votes.
We don’t know all the details yet, as lawmakers in both House and Senate had to swallow the budget bills without anything close to reasonable deliberation while the clock ticked down on Thursday’s constitutionally mandated close. Senators were furious then but are likely more so now, as they're starting to find out what the hurriedly passed budget actually contained, and didn't.
In two of the most prominent late cuts, to the Red River bridge and the Port of New Orleans’ container terminal funding, we trust that — once again — Gov. John Bel Edwards can clean up the Legislature's mess.
Or rather, the House's, as its leadership was clearly on the warpath against the handful of right-wingers who bucked a key vote to let the budget proceed this year. The fiscal radicals were wrong on the substance of the spending cap fight, but that doesn't justify this particular destructive punishment.
The bitterness in the House chamber isn’t just an isolated incident of political retaliation, although it was handled particularly poorly by Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, and his allies in leadership. We fear this sends the message that Louisiana isn’t governed well enough to justify private-sector investment in our economy.
State government’s funding of public facilities, like a bridge and the new container terminal at Violet in St. Bernard, provides a framework for growth. That mission is apparently lost on incompetent legislators.
We can’t agree more with Greg Rusovich, head of a shipping company and a former chair of the Port of New Orleans board: “I think it's absolutely disgraceful. It frankly is indicative of why the state is having such a problem in terms of growing our economy and growing jobs, and why we continue to take steps back instead of steps forward.”
It appears Edwards and his team will keep the port project and the bridge on track despite the political collapse downstairs at the State Capitol. That the administration has to save the day shows, once more, what a profound disservice politics can do to economic development.