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Needless new spending to dig budgetary hole

We were warnedrepeatedly over the last couple of years – and now it looks to come to pass: because of unwise new spending commitments, a string of general fund budget deficits are poised to head Louisiana’s way over the next three years.

This week, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget met to make its usual budget adjustments and to collect information on current and projected revenues and costs, and the picture wasn’t pretty. For fiscal years 2024-26, at this point the general fund is predicted short nearly $2 billion.

Some of the gap comes from one-time measures. For FY 2024, $553 million must go to storm-related expenditures for state matches for relief from and hardening against future flooding, but that still leaves $255 million in uncovered ongoing expenses. That would have been covered except for the termination of $286 million extra in in regular Medicaid matching from the federal government as a result of pandemic emergency spending.


Govts shouldn't fund attempt to get, stay lit

While a number of people in and around New Orleans, and especially many visitors there, often take on a mission to get lit and stay lit, government should reject funding an unrelated effort that goes by that name.

“Get Lit, Stay Lit” is nonprofit initiative that pointedly doesn’t follow the philosophy usually espoused by those terms. Much more helpfully, the group Feed the Second Line has begun to create solar collection grids attached to city restaurants, with the purpose of giving these  establishments a source of power when it’s lost as a result of a storm or other event.

Inspiration for this came after Hurricane Ida last year, where power – except for a limited backup peaker gas plant otherwise needed importation into the city – didn’t come back on in some areas for over a week. Many restaurants lost refrigeration and had to ditch otherwise palatable food.


Gubernatorial decision looms for LA Democrats

On the heels of a somewhat-flawed media report about next year’s Louisiana governor’s race, it’s helpful to see where things stand less than a year from qualification.

Earlier this week, the Louisiana Radio Network reported that the 2023 contest to succeed the term-limited Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards was “unusually muddy.” Drawing largely on statements made by University of Louisiana at Monroe political scientist Joshua Stockley, the story described entry by Republicans Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and Treas. John Schroder as contingent on U.S. Senate outcomes in this fall’s elections, principally whether Louisiana GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, the latter running for reelection this fall, will become part of the body’s majority.

LRN should have checked their clips; Schroder told supporters months ago he was in, which triggered eventually the announced entrance of Republican state Rep. Scott McKnight to replace him. That doesn’t mean he will stay in, saying he would make a formal announcement later in the year and perhaps something he will reconsider if polling results continue to be discouraging, but desisting seems unlikely.


Most LA colleges stuck on stupid with passports

Insofar as vaccine passports go, Louisiana higher education remains largely stuck on stupid entering the new academic year, although with interesting and telling exceptions.

Despite the lack of efficacy behind the strategy to have all employees and on-campus attendees vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus as a means to curtail its impact, the University of Louisiana System and the Southern University System again will mandate this, while the Louisiana Community and Technical College System appears to do the same. However, the Louisiana State University System has given its campuses discretion whether to do so, and the main Baton Rouge campus, its health sciences campuses in New Orleans and Shreveport, and LSU Alexandria won’t.

Nothing has changed in the past year to add any scientific rationale to this required vaccination mandate; if anything, the extremely weak case has eroded further. Consider the flawed formal reasoning why to do so: vaccinations cut down on spread to reduce suffering, if not to save lives.


Bossier traffic deal exercise in opaqueness

Accountability never has been a long suit for Bossier Parish’s governments, and while that has begun to improve a recent issue shows there it’s still a work very much in progress, potentially to the detriment of taxpayers.

That issue concerns school safety concerns raised in the wake of shooting incidents, particularly earlier this summer. Bossier Parish School District schools have resource officers from the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office on all campuses, and in the case of a few they also direct traffic before and after the school day consequent to the dropping off and picking up of children. For the upcoming academic year, the District wants to keep the SROs on campus during these periods, necessitating the provision of additional law enforcement personnel on the streets around four schools in the parish and two in Bossier City.

Streets are the province of law enforcement agencies; anywhere in the parish the BPSO although in a municipality concurrently with its law enforcement agency if one exists, in this case Bossier City’s Police Department. Therefore, the simplest and most parsimonious solution has the BPSO assign deputies to the four schools and BCPD assign officers to the two schools as part of their normal policing activities. It seems extraordinarily unlikely that personnel are so stretched in either LEA that extra shifts and overtime would ensue to fulfill this simple and brief task.


Perkins campaign crippled regardless of outcome

Regardless of what happens in the next week or so, the Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins campaign has suffered perhaps a fatal blow with his disqualification from his reelection bid.

That attempt can come back from the grave as Perkins has appealed the decision by Republican 1st District Judge Brady O’Callaghan to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He shouldn’t hold his breath on this, however, as that court only months ago ruled in a similar case to disqualify a candidate who, like Perkins, made a false statement on his filing when he failed to indicate his declared homestead address also was where he was registered to vote. Perkins owns a homestead but his registration as of when he qualified remained at the same address he has had since he first registered to vote coming out of high school.

O’Callaghan drew upon this recent precedent, where the court noted the law demanded accuracy and that inaccuracy meant disqualification. Yet a noticeable difference does exist between the cases, in that in the earlier case the inaccuracy also hid the fact that the candidate did not reside in the jurisdiction of the office contested when such candidates are required to have domicile in it while Perkins at both addresses still would have domicile within Shreveport.


Data confirm wages of closing LA schools

The wages of one of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policies, amplified by sympathetic school districts and a hesitant state school authority, reverberate still, and for some children negatively for the rest of their lives.

Recently, the state Department of Education released test score results for the past school year. The news was cautiously good, with minor increases mostly across the board for districts and schools. Unfortunately, these gains didn’t quite balance the losses encountered in the previous year, leaving on the whole student achievement behind where it was for academic year 2020.

LEAP test data clearly showed how curricula delivery based on in-person instruction outperformed that which was entirely virtual. In AY 2021, for grades 3-8, the rate of students who scored at the second-highest Mastery or above level on ELA and Math assessments was 15 percent higher for students who were in-person for the entirety of the year versus those who were virtual for the entire year. Also, students who were virtual for the entire year had an 11 percent greater rate of the lowest Unsatisfactory level scores than students who were in-person for the entire year. For AY 2022, in-person learning was a contributing factor to the progress as 98 percent of LEAP testers engaged in full-time, in-person learning, compared to 57 percent in AY 2021.


Booting Perkins boosts Tarver, maybe Fuller more

Disqualification of Democrat Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins from his reelection bid dramatically alters the course of the contest, boosting significantly the hopes of a couple of candidates and damaging those of another pair.

Tuesday, a state district judge ruled that Perkins under oath had provided false information in his qualification documents, that he put down an address of a residence other than his homestead that is required under law, an action which statute says disqualifies him. While he is expected to appeal the decision, a recent similar case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals where his case would go rules similarly, and it would seem unlikely that the Louisiana Supreme Court would go against that.

In the contest, Perkins faced four major challengers: Republican former Councilor Tom Arceneaux, no party Caddo Parish Commissioner Mario Chavez, Democrat Councilor LeVette Fuller, and Democrat state Sen. Greg Tarver. Elected in 2018 running as a unknown political outsider that allowed Perkins to present himself as a blank slate, this enticed enough people to read into him being an agent of change to defeat the incumbent.


Against type, Campbell suggests good policy

Like a blind hog stumbling upon an acorn, Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell got something right about how to lower energy costs in Louisiana.

It wasn’t from his usual hot air, on display at last month’s PSC meeting when commissioners sharply queried power company officials over noticeably higher prices consumers have endured this summer. With his typical bluster amplifying his economic worldview that there’s no rising tide that lifts all boats but instead a pie that never changes in size so it’s all in how you carve it up, he criticized utility profits and executive salaries which have nothing to do with the crisis caused by the hostile signals sent and actions initiated by the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration that have depressed potential fossil fuel supply, a subject about which Campbell never issues a peep.

It wasn’t from his displaying a product of his superstitious catastrophic anthropogenic global warming faith, by launching into an evidence-free rant about how too much reliance on fossil fuels rather than renewable sources supposedly drove up consumer costs – completely ignorant of or unwilling to acknowledge the facts that not only are typical natural gas prices lower than those of wind or solar, even with wasteful government subsidies attached to these, but also that the infrastructure required such as in building windmills or arrays that don’t typically last even 30 years with scare materials and the transmission lines needed to transport it, and not even considering the incredibly expensive battery capacity required, makes this form of energy far more expensive.


Inattentiveness may scuttle Perkins reelection

Coincidence? Regardless, the very real threat to Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins’ reelection due to illegal qualification seems to be a common outcome with recent electoral opponents of Democrat state Sen. Greg Traver.

Both qualified earlier in July, but at the deadline to challenge qualification, Perkins had a very serious one lodged against him that on its face looks more than sufficient to get him kicked off the ballot. State law requires that candidates, if they claim a homestead, must qualify at that homestead’s address, and that they have filed state income tax returns for the past five years.

For his adult life, Perkins has maintained voter registration – although he never voted until his own contest – at a southern Shreveport residence. But he filed a homestead exemption for a residence he owns in downtown Shreveport. Further, state records indicate no income tax filings for 2017 and 2018; in 2017 he appears to have lived out of state but he certainly was around in 2018 when he ran for mayor and drew a salary from an out-of-state employer, and he also likely drew disability payments from the Army in this period which would need reporting.