PRE-SINE DIE Q&A WITH SEN. BRET ALLAIN

LaPolitics: That final Finance vote in HB 1 was such a break from the session rhythm. Quick, unemotional and transactional. Was that intentional, did committee members discuss and endeavor that approach?

Sen. Bret Allain: You mean when I ran the meeting?

LaPolitics: The Finance meeting.

Allain: Yeah. That’s just how I roll. There were no cards. There were no questions. We stayed up for two nights in a row til midnight with spreadsheets trying to balance everything. Everybody had well made up their minds and were satisfied — not everybody was one hundred percent satisfied, obviously. It was meant to be unemotional. There was no reason to belabor it and we needed to get it up on the floor. Most of what had been said had been, with the caucus and with the staff. The night before that, we were up until midnight trying to balance this thing and most of everybody’s questions had been answered by staff. So we came with the plan. We put it forth, realizing that the House may have some additional things to say about it. But we wanted to go ahead and get our plan out there as we did last time. So. Next question.

LaPolitics: What’s important for the Senate during this break? What’s one thing that can be improved upon?

Allain: During the break? You mean the one we’re hoping to have? I think, as far as vice chair of Finance, I think we really need some greater accountability of the Louisiana Department of Health. Just by asking questions at the table, we came up with $44 million of things that they had budgeted but the actuals didn’t come up to them. Just by asking the questions, we came up with between $44 million and $60 million worth of savings. LDH is $14 billion of a $29 billion budget. I don’t think it’s by design, but it’s such a huge bureaucracy. It’s hard for us to get a handle on it. I think we need to do more. We’re spending a lot of money there. That’s with all agencies, but we’re spending a lot of money there. I think during the break we really need to do some more scrutiny of LDH. I don’t mean in a bad way. People are tired of taxes. I’m tired of taxes. If there are savings to be had throughout government, we need to find them.

LaPolitics: What’s more strained — the relationship between the House and the Senate or the relationship between the House and the governor?

Allain: Yes.

LaPolitics: Do you think they’re strained in different ways?

Allain: I do. I mean it did not help — I took offense when Jay Dardenne, after we passed the budget in the regular session and we decided that we were not going to pass a budget that threw 37,000 people out of nursing homes as the House had sent it to us, and we made cuts into state government agencies, Jay Dardenne felt obligated to sit there and berate and belittle that. That was not acceptable. That severely strained the relationship between the governor and the Senate. Let me tell you: The press always loves to say that the Senate is the lapdog to the governor. Let me tell you: We’re not. We’re an independent body. We take pride on being independent. There were a lot of initiatives the governor had — minimum wage, equal pay — a lot of those things that the Senate rejected. We rejected what the governor and the House had sent us with this budget and actually argued with him. I think that relationship between us and the governor is severely strained right now. But whether it’s strained or not, we have a job to do.

LaPolitics: Can we keep you in the mix as a potential Senate presidential candidate?

Allain: I am.

LaPolitics: Can you elaborate?

Allain: I’ve created a package called the Bayou Leadership PAC. I have a PAC in place and funded. I intend to go out there and help my friends who want to run for the Senate and also the senators who are here that I know are going to return. I am going to be a candidate and I am going to go out and spend the time and the energy to let people know who I am. Hopefully, when it comes time to decide who they want to lead them, I’ll be one of the ones in their consideration.

LaPolitics: Speaking of which, tell us what you think is the most interesting thing worth following for the fall election cycle.

Allain: That the Senate is probably going to have at least 18 new members and that the control of the Senate may actually be dependent on the people who have never served a day in the Senate. That also is interesting and concerning to me. To me, and I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here, you can always depend on the bedrock of the decorum of the Senate. We separate ourselves from the House not in a bad way, I’m not trying to say that we’re better or worse. But you’ll notice that in all of our proceedings, there is a decorum. Or there should be. I am concerned that we maintain that decorum. I’m excited about new members coming in, but so many changing at one time, I think, will be I don’t know if you want to call that exciting. I think the governor’s race is going to be exciting, also. I’m just hoping that at the end of that election cycle the Legislature is better off than it is now.

LaPolitics: What’s your personal quota on red snapper this go around?

Allain: My personal quota would be two fish a day every day it’s open. Obviously, that’s not attainable because of this job. I would love to go fishing every day the snapper season is open. I’m at peace when I’m fishing.

LaPolitics: Do you intend to reach that personal quota before the legislature convenes a session again, during this break that we’re hoping to have?

Allain: I would have to resign from the Senate.

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