Louisiana Digital News

When The Advocate Kisses Your Rear End And You’re A Republican, You’re Doing It Wrong


That’s the lesson Page Cortez ought to take from the hagiographic Tyler Bridges piece slobbering all over him that the Advocate ran on Sunday on the issue of Louisiana’s budget and the effort Cortez and his pals are making in order to use the state’s $1.9 billion surplus – which is driven solely by overtaxation and mountains of federal dollars – on the legislative-appropriation version of hookers and blow.

The piece calls Cortez a “pragmatist,” which is hilarious, given that we were told for years it’s not at all pragmatic to spend one-time money on recurring expenses. Now that’s just good government.

It quotes a bunch of Cortez’ friends, like fellow senator Fred Mills, a pharmacist who’s so in bed with the hospital and drug industries as the chair of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee that they practically bring him chocolates and roses and whose constituents are so enamored of his brand of governance that they’re poised to replace him with Blake Miguez, the most diametrically opposite politician possible while still being in the same party, this fall, to talk about how awesome Cortez is.

Does this seem awesome to you?

“It was never contemplated at the time to keep taxpayer dollars in the treasury as opposed to spending it on needed projects,” Cortez said. “By raising the expenditure limit, we’re allowed to put that money back into commerce — to fix roads, bridges and buildings that would otherwise cost more in out years via inflation and that will be in more deplorable shape. You can pay me now and fix the buildings, or pay me later to tear them down and build a new one.”

He thinks government projects constitute “putting money back into commerce.”

When the state has a massive unfunded accrued liability problem and billions of dollars of debt to service.

Sure, we need to do work on the roads. Here’s the truth about that: part of the reason the roads suck around here is there isn’t enough construction capacity to do all the road projects. Throwing billions of dollars into road projects now doesn’t fix that problem so much as it creates inflation in that industry. Too much money chasing too little in goods and services is the definition of inflation.

Page Cortez thinks you force all that money through a limited pipeline and that’s how it works. When the real answer is you keep your overhead as low as you can and you give the people their own money back by keeping taxes as low as possible, and you use the resulting surpluses from your own fiscal discipline to build those roads.

Fixing those dilapidated buildings? How about firing the people who let them become dilapidated in the first place? The maintenance budgets around the state are bigger than private-sector companies and landlords have, and most of the private buildings in Louisiana aren’t falling down. Why can’t the state keep up its buildings? And why is Page Cortez interested in blowing our money out of helicopters to bail out the incompetent public-sector building maintenance people?

Further, why isn’t he finding money in a $46 billion state budget that could keep the buildings maintained?

The answer is that for a politician like Page Cortez – Moon Griffon calls him “Blank Page,” and he’s not wrong – it’s more important to get hagiographic articles written about him in the Advocate than to do the obvious things his Republican constituents sent him to do.

This is the highest-tax state in the South, at least in terms of the impact taxation has on our economy. We’re losing population so quickly that it’s unlikely we’ll keep our sixth congressional seat after the 2030 midterms. Louisiana’s workforce is shrinking, businesses are relocating out of here, our cities are all dying and our net outmigration is as bad as Illinois. The idea that continuing with a big-government, tax-and-spend model is beneficial is so contrary to the evidence you have to question the basic intelligence of the people defending it.

Like for example, Cortez’ new friends at the Louisiana Budget Project, who managed to channel both Kevin Bacon’s character and John Belushi’s character from Animal House at the same time…

Still, some legislators are refusing to take yes for an answer. Instead of using these resources where they’re needed most, they are proposing to steer money into state pension plans as a way to avoid a vote to exceed an expenditure cap. Others want to add money to the state’s rainy-day fund as a way to trigger automatic, across-the-board tax cuts that would lead to budget shortfalls and program cuts in the future.

There is a clear and responsible path forward: The Legislature should raise the expenditure cap. That way it can use the available, recurring revenue to give all classroom teachers the $3,000 pay raise they’ve earned, restore funding for early childhood programs so that young families can continue to access high-quality care, and start chipping away at Louisiana’s long backlog of repairs and infrastructure improvements.

Or, as Commissioner Jay Dardenne succinctly noted, you shouldn’t prepay your mortgage if your roof is leaking.

The Budget Project, a George Soros-funded production, says Louisiana’s economy is “strong” and “sustainable,” which pretty much brands them as economic illiterates. But the Budget Project and Tyler Bridges are Page Cortez’ buddies now, so he’ll be demanding that the Republican legislature do Democrat things.

What’s sad is that there aren’t 14 Senators, at least not at this point, willing to come out and publicly say they won’t vote to bust those caps. There are 46 in the House who have publicly said so; 36 are all that’s needed to block that plan.

LABI, the Grow Louisiana Coalition, the Pelican Institute and LCCM have all lined up against Cortez. If you’re a Republican representing a Republican district in the Senate and you want to stand with Cortez and against those guys, knock yourself out – but don’t be shocked when you have a well-funded opponent this fall who’s bashing your head in again and again about what a RINO you are, because that’s what’s likely to happen.

Bridges says Cortez has the advantage because the Senate is full of veteran politicians and the House “lacks experience.” That’s not a great argument, though it’s true that the Senate almost always wins these budget fights.

But winning this one? We’ll see.

You can get involved, you know. If you’d like to see the state actually pay down debt and thus shrink its debt service obligations, and therefore make government smaller, you might want to contact your senator and let him know you really don’t care about Tyler Bridges puff pieces when it’s your money being blown.

Next year Page Cortez will be back at the family furniture store. He’s unlikely to win political office ever again. We don’t know about you, but the idea that he would be in a position to squander our money for years to come is not a particularly attractive one to us.



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