2020 VISION: What’s next in Louisiana politics?

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — The holiday season can bring plenty of leftovers to the home — and yes, to state government as well.

Unclaimed property pressure

Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder is renewing his resolution from last year. He’s against using unclaimed property funds to pay for government expenses, urging that money stay put for the people to claim.

“I don’t think the state should have the right to spend it,” Schroder said last year. “That to me is morally wrong.”

But Gov. John Bel Edwards argues Schroder’s failure to transfer unclaimed money undermines the Legislature’s power over state funds.

As the Republican treasurer stands willing to shield his 2020 promise in court, the Democratic governor faces one more recurring fight.

Revenue forecast firestorm

For a second straight year, Republican leaders on Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference are holding out on casting rosier projections. They say it’s too soon to tell how much money Louisiana will collect this fiscal year and next.

“That process is always going to be difficult, but that’s what it’s designed to do,” Rep. Cameron Henry, a senator-elect representing House Speaker Taylor Barras on the panel, said at a meeting Dec. 12. “It should be [difficult] when you’re spending billions of dollars of state money.”

Because the state can only spend funds first adopted by its income forecasting panel, the group’s delay leaves Gov. Edwards’ budget hopes on hold.

“This body has a constitutional responsibility to establish a forecast,” Edwards’ chief budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, said last month. “Our failure to do so shirks our constitutional responsibility that we have to estimate revenue.”

For all the repeats 2020 brings to Louisiana politics, one item does please Edwards. The governor will take his second oath of office Jan. 13, as the state House and Senate pick new leaders of their own.

Legislators start their annual session Mar. 9 and must adjourn by June 1.

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