It’s been 17 years since the legislature adjourned a regular session without passing a budget, until this year of course. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne was there nearly two decades ago, as chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He quoted some familiar phrases uttered on the House floor to the Baton Rouge Press Club.

“A lot of discussion on the floor that session, see if this sounds familiar, I don’t want to see hospitals close, nursing homes adversely affected, our colleges and universities,” Dardenne said.

That was the year the Stelly Plan was passed, and Dardenne says there was a lot of uncertainty about how much revenue the new taxes would bring in. He says the legislature was facing a similar problem then as they are today with temporary taxes set to expire in 2018.

“John Alario said the extra sales tax to get the state through a budget crunch while voters decide whether to increase income taxes. Does that sound familiar?” Dardenne said.

Dardenne says 17 years later, we’re having many of the same discussions. He says the one-penny sales tax enacted last year was supposed to be the so-called bridge to fiscal reform. He says this session was their chance to implement the reform they promised, and lawmakers failed to do so.

“We got on the bridge to fiscal reform, but then we fell off of it because it didn’t lead us anywhere with nothing happening during this legislative session, the one that was targeted to be the fiscal reform session,” Dardenne said.