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6.2.23

LA must grab tax-cutting, growth opportunity

With $2.26 billion in surplus dollars from last year’s budget and foreseen for this year’s and the next, Louisiana has a chance to jumpstart its economy, following through from the double-edged sword impact of out-of-control Washington spending.

Last month, the state figured it closed out fiscal year 2022 with $727 million more collected than anticipated. A quarter of this is spoken for by the Budget Stabilization Fund and another tenth must go to paying down a portion of the state’s unfunded accrued liabilities, and the rest can go to specified nonrecurring functions including those. A good strategy here would put the nearly $473 million (perhaps a bit less, depending upon another statutory interpretation) towards paying down more of the latter, which would reduce costs to local education agencies that they could use, for example, for pay raises.

As for the $925 million appertaining to this year, $45 million went in the just-finished special session to entice insurers, and the state still owes the federal government $300 million for past flood protection efforts, although it hopes to have this waived. Assuming it doesn’t, for the remainder one advisable strategy would be to bank it for the upcoming FY 2026 sales tax hike roll-off that, according to the state’s forecast, will result in $550 million lower sales tax revenue compared to FY 2025.

5.2.23

DeSoto Jury has chance to fix deficient plan

At a committee meeting this week and then later this month, the DeSoto Parish Police Jury must do the right and legal thing and fix its malapportioned districts even if it causes heartburn for incumbents.

Last year, the Jury reapportioned itself but in a way the judiciary almost certainly would find unconstitutional. Population changes that left the parish almost the same according to the 2020 census but with a surge in the northern Shreveport exurbs and decline around Mansfield weren’t accounted for adequately in its enacted plan, which didn’t differ much from existing lines. It left northern districts overpopulated and other districts underpopulated in amounts that existing jurisprudence finds highly suspicious without extenuating circumstances.

Although the arguments for this deviation have changed, the latest has lit on incumbent protection – lines that don’t change each juror’s district much to provide continuity of representation – as the rationale. Under normal circumstances that would be a heavy lift, assigning so much importance to avoiding at least one pair or more of incumbents facing off in a new district for reelection as to induce malapportionment, or having districts with widely varying populations that is unconstitutional.

2.2.23

Shreveport case used for systemic racism trope

Courtesy of Shreveport, the political left has another bullet in the chamber to attempt to indoctrinate the culture into molding the notion of endemic systemic racism in America a non-falsifiable concept.

Over the past week, leftist media outlets have become aroused by the brutal beating in police custody of black Memphian Tyre Nichols that led to his death. Slowly but surely after news of what on the surface appears to be police misconduct, the usual suspects have, as often they do when a black man suffers this fate at the hands of police, begun to use the incident as another alleged indicator of a police war on blacks, as an extension of ingrained and irredeemable racism against blacks in America.

Even though that argument never has had a chance given the data. Although the majority of crimes, including murders, are committed by blacks, fatal police shootings disproportionately involve whites, two-to-one relative to blacks, making whites 2.5 times more likely to be shot fatally by police. Moreover, police are 400 times more likely to be shot fatally by a black man as an unarmed black was to be shot fatally by a police officer. There is no police war on blacks, if there’s a police war on anybody.

1.2.23

Money won't boost LA minority student outcomes

A Legislative Auditor report outlining racial and family income differences in types of schools and quality of schools attendance in Louisiana suggests a couple of tactics to try to close those gaps.

As noted previously, the report provided data that underscored the importance of correctly understanding the nature of poverty. A widely mistaken view of it, chiefly inculcated in the political left, is that poverty comes from a lack of fiscal resources measured by household income, which the left often attributes to an economic and social system that deliberately stacks the deck against some people, particularly racial minorities and women, that benefits others.

In reality, poverty comes from a lack of attitudes associated with a future orientation in the valuing of costs and benefits, which becomes expressed in lower household incomes. Except for the small subset of individuals who physically or mentally have disabilities that significantly impede their abilities to contribute to society, as well as those facing a temporary run of bad luck, among the poor the vast majority in the past made, and many continue today to make, poor decisions (unfortunately for some with significant pressures to do so) that have left them with few skills and/or significant burdens that encourage them to stay impoverished.

31.1.23

Smarter choices to improve schools, reduce poor

Changing Louisiana’s dismal education achievement begins with understanding what the data say about how poverty impacts learning, not what ideology would have you believe.

Last year, lawmakers asked the Legislative Auditor to compile statistics on charter school students. The office expanded that to all schools and released the report last week.

It described several things. Blacks disproportionately represented the student bodies of schools, with the total distribution basically reflected in the racial proportions of traditional schools, but with blacks heavily comprising attendance at charter schools and underrepresented in private schools. Further, blacks disproportionately attended worse schools, which is explained by the charter school numbers: by design, charter schools start at the bottom initially taking students from failed schools who obviously have been low achievers.

30.1.23

Major overhaul can solve LA roads underfunding

As complaints about Louisiana roads in quality and quantity have increased continually, if anything expect things to get worse on these accounts before they get better unless big changes are in the offing.

That implication came through in a recent discussion arranged by the Public Affairs Research Council, involving policy-makers and group representatives. They emphasized a recent Legislative Auditor report that noted the retail fuel excise tax will erode significantly in its ability to provide money for roads in order to tackle a $15 billion in expressed needs.

Two trends drive that: slow but steady improvement in overall gasoline efficiency and slow but steady growth in the proportion of non-fossil fuel engines on the road. Both reduce the amount of gas sold thus tax collected.

29.1.23

LA can't miss again on protecting children

Here’s a chance, after previous missed opportunities, for Louisiana to get atypically out in front and on the right side of an issue and protect children.

It’s the last state to convene its legislature, and many others aren’t waiting to file bills that prevent potentially destructive pharmaceutical and surgical interventions on children. Some already have acted to prohibit sexual transition surgery on children and the administration of puberty blockers without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports such a position, with an excellent recitation of it as of last year contained in HR 158 by Republican Rep. Gabe Firment, a bill passed in last year’s regular session. Mounting evidence since then has led additional public health authorities worldwide to take that more cautious view encapsulated in the bills now advancing in about 20 statehouses.

26.1.23

BC to bus riders: take a hike, see the statue

The Jan. 24 meeting of the Bossier City Council provided a perfect summary of the last 25 years of city governance: building monuments instead of helping people.

It started off innocently enough, with a bid opening. When the city bids out business (much less often than it should according to best practices), interested bidders have theirs revealed to the Council publicly, and then the city makes the decision who to go with or, if just one qualifying one received, whether to rebid.

The project was to construct a statue of Walter O. Bigby, the politician for whom the northern extension of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway is named, at the completed roundabout. That decision was made over two years ago as Ordinance 165 of 2020 at its Dec. 15, 2020 meeting as holidays approached and Wuhan coronavirus restrictions remained in effect. The projected maximum bid was $330,000 and attracted several supplicants.

25.1.23

Looming short special session driven by politics

The short-but-sweet special session of the Louisiana Legislature to kick off next week came more from politics than any genuine need for urgency.

The very narrowly-defined call by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards leaves legislators only the option to choose how many of just-recognized excess dollars from last month’s Revenue Estimating Conference forecast to pour into a special fund designed to attract property insurers into the state. At the behest of Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, $45 million of the almost $925 million would go for this purpose.

The vehicle used will be an overhaul of an effort over 15 years ago in response to insurers either dissolving or refusing to write policies in the state after the hurricane disasters of 2005. A series of lesser storms over the past couple of years has triggered a similar situation and pushing at least 20 insurers out of the state, driving the population of the state-overseen nonprofit insurer Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to levels last seen in the aftermath of 2005 comprising about a tenth of all insured properties. Further, rates for Citizens clients on average will increase 63 percent.

24.1.23

Top spot race action ripples to lower LA offices

The flurry of activity surrounding Louisiana’s governor’s race has had an impact on other constitutional statewide offices up for grabs later in the year as well.

Long thought to seek the state’s top job, instead Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser opted to vie for reelection. That may not be a slam dunk, for GOP former Rep. John Fleming months ago declared his candidacy, after having said he would wait on Nungesser to decide who dithered until about a week ago.

While that may imply Fleming could abandon the effort, having gone a few months into it he well might keep going. He would pose a real challenge to Nungesser, who has alienated a good portion of state Republican activists over sniping with them about endorsements for Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry for governor as well as differences over key issues. Those disgruntled with Nungesser would give Fleming a long look, who has an impeccable conservatism record although the position largely is nonideological and who is flush enough to finance his own campaign.