After first falling two votes short of the two thirds needed for a constitutional amendment changing the calculation for limiting budget expenditures Monday afternoon, Rep. Beau Beaullieu, R-New Iberia, pulled three more votes out of the hat 45 minutes later and saw it passed.
At 5 p.m., the House voted 68-22 in favor of Beaullieu’s HB273, two short of the 70 votes required for a constitutional amendment in the 105-member House. Forty minutes later, Beaullieu was back at the front mic with a motion to reconsider, which the House auspiciously granted, 71-22.
“Members, this is the exact same amendment this House approved last year with no ‘no’ votes,” said Beaullieu, whose District 48 includes parts of Youngsville. “I urge you now to pass it again.”
At 5:46 p.m., HB273 passed by the same 71-22.
Among the other members of the Lafayette delegation, Republicans Stuart Bishop, Jean-Paul Coussan, Julie Emerson and Jonathan Goudeau and Democrat Marcus Bryant voted for it both times; Democrat Vincent Pierre voted against it twice.
Beaullieu then asked the House to approve the amendment’s enabling legislation, HB276, which required a simple majority. It passed 73-21, with the Lafayette delegation voting the same way it did on HB273.
Currently, the state constitution limits the growth of expenditures for the following fiscal year based on a complex formula, in turn based on changes in personal income in the state over the previous three fiscal years according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department.
Beaullieu’s amendment would scrap that constitutional formula and empower the Legislature to enact a statutory formula that would cap expenditure growth at 5%. That statute could then be changed only by a two-thirds vote of each house, but without the voter approval required for constitutional amendments.
HB276 would establish that new, even more complex growth formula, which would retain the calculation of changes in personal income over the previous three years but add the average of three other indicators: the annual change in Louisiana’s gross domestic product calculated by the U.S. Commerce Department; the average annual change in Louisiana’s population; and the average annual change in the consumer price index.
If the proposed constitutional amendment obtains the required two-thirds vote in the Senate, it will be on the ballot for the federal midterm election on Nov. 8, 2022.