Brutal session ahead

State Sen. Bret Allain offered one word to sum up the coming state legislative session: Brutal.

“You can quote me on that,” Allain told me at the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce banquet.

Lawmakers are anxiously pouring over Monday’s revenue forecast released by the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference. The figures provide a starting point, which promises little reason for optimism.

It speaks to the peculiar disconnect between the Houma-Thibodaux area and the rest of the state.

As reported in today’s Progress section (see B1), our region is bustling with work opportunities, education options to ensure financial success and growing communities. All in all, we have plenty to be happy about and we know it.

Lafourche and Terrebonne have experienced progress over the last year in virtually every category.

But with gas prices continuing to fall, our state’s coffers are facing a serious shortfall – at least $1.4 billion and growing.

Allain offered a logical suggestion. Bring all the parties to the table and have everyone agree to a trim.

“We take a little off everyone’s budget and then no one service has to bear the brunt of this,” he said.

It’s likely too logical for Louisiana, unfortunately.

And by overwhelmingly refusing to reconsider the dedicated spending on revenues the state does receive, voters have all but ensured our two most vital service areas – education and health care – are vulnerable to even more cuts.

Louisiana can’t afford pet or pork projects. Our rainy day funding is gone and storm clouds are gathering. It’s time state lawmakers and the governor create a budget without slaughtering any hope we have of a healthy, educated future. Let your representatives know where you stand.

As for me, I’m with Allain. An across-the-board trim is in order.