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16.1.17

Mayoral politics intrudes on NO good govt measure

Defending a fast-and-easy system that permits transfer of taxpayer wealth to questionable organizations seems the first order of business in the nascent mayoral campaign of New Orleans City Councilor LaToya Cantrell.

At a recent City Council committee meeting, City Councilor Stacy Head made the reasonable suggestion that the city charge discounted rates to organizations claiming nonprofit status for city involvement with special events. Until now, the chronically cash-strapped city has waived all such fees, and still would waive it in some cases under the new fee structure.

That notion generated little controversy, but sparked heated argument when it came to what qualified groups as nonprofits. Head wanted to count groups only with Internal Revenue Service charitable status. Until recently, this procedure, which costs $400 to obtain, required a detailed application, typically dozens of pages long, spelling out clearly the governance structure, decision-making rules, and purposes to which donated funds would go.

12.1.17

Flawed LA Regents report needs serious adjusting

Well, it ended up as false advertisement, but with modifications the draft response of the Louisiana Board of Regents to a legislative study request can make the state’s higher education system significantly more effective and efficient.

Act 619 of 2016 set the state’s governance board for higher education on course to review comprehensively delivery of post-secondary education. When commencing this effort last fall, leaders said they would produce a document with “bold” recommendations.

Instead, the finished product unveiled this week comes off as mild as a church mouse, which undoubtedly will disappoint the bill’s author, Republican state Sen. Sharon Hewitt. Months ago, she asked for very specific items for the Legislature to tackle in the near future. She and other legislators widely expected the effort to include guidance on streamlining the governance system and establishing a lower number of senior institutions.

11.1.17

Loudmouth Landrieu needs to do his job on crime

It doesn’t have the flashiest name, nor can it contribute much to crime reduction. But as long as governance of New Orleans does not address seriously the causes and disincentives to committing crime in the city, the revamped and renamed Louisiana Bureau of Investigation under the jurisdiction of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry will prove helpful in keeping down the Crescent City’s rampant lawlessness – despite its political leadership.

Landry recently has expanded activity of the unit, which has in the past served as an investigative unit for his office, by sending it into New Orleans. There, in a few months it has racked up relatively small numbers of arrests and prompted complaints from the powers that be in the city, principally Democrat Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his police chief Michael Harrison.

Harrison actually wrote a note to Landry alleging that the state’s top justice official did not have the authority to conduct policing activities in New Orleans because of its special act home rule charter. Let’s hope Harrison knows law enforcement better than he knows his state’s Constitution, for while Art. VI Sec. 5 gives such governments powers not inconsistent with law and the Constitution, in Art. VI Sec. 6 it places the only limitation on the state’s powers relevant to a charter, that no law affect powers under the charter or functions and organization of government related to that. Landry’s office or any state agency with law enforcement power has the unfettered right to operate in New Orleans as it wishes.

10.1.17

Legislature must trump Edwards on deficit agenda

Even if Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards uses his authority to force the Louisiana Legislature into special session, Republican legislative leaders still can force him to dance to their tune that emphasizes efficient government of appropriate size.

Next week the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet, potentially to change its forecast of fiscal year 2017 revenues. When it met late last year, mainly at the behest of House Speaker Taylor Barras, it did not alter the current forecast that already has come in around $300 million fewer than budgeted.

However, trends may not have reversed sufficiently so as not only to create a deficit on top of the one previously declared, but also a significant one. So large, in fact, that Edwards alleges nothing less than a special session can do to fix it, meaning broad tax and/or fee increases on the table. And while Edwards complained about the REC not declaring deficit conditions in December, which would have required a special session after 30 days if administrative actions still left a deficit, he did not issue a warning for executive branch agencies to clamp down on spending like he did earlier last year.

9.1.17

Flawed study misinforms on LA Obamcare impact

As midnight approaches for the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (“Obamacare”), its supporters summon any failed argument they can to try to stave off its inevitable demise. Thusly in Louisiana we hear a rehash of the widgets defense.

A report alleges that repeal of the wealth redistribution aspects of it and Medicaid expansion in Louisiana would cost $639.7 million loss in state and local taxes; $39.1 billion loss in business output and a $21.5 billion hit to the gross state product. Nationally, the presumed impact would mean a $2.6 billion loss in jobs in 2019 and a $1.5 trillion drop in gross state products between 2019 and 2023, according to the report.

But like all analyses supposedly touting the economics of Obamacare, it fails both in execution and conceptually. These always look only at the effect of adding money into the health care sector, not in the balancing of taking money out of the economy – with the latest Congressional Budget Office numbers forecasting at least $2 trillion removed by the federal government, some of which comes in direct taxation of individuals specifically to finance the scheme, plus over $600 billion more in fees and penalties over the 2016-25 period. That doesn’t even count the rapidly escalating cost of health insurance that shunts even more money from citizens who otherwise could have spent it on other economic sectors or have invested it – for 2017 an average annual increase of 25 percent for individual policies nationally and in Louisiana 17 percent.

6.1.17

Wacko alarmists miss real LA CPRA report story

Predictably, environmentalist wackos took the draft 2017 master plan issued by Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and spun it to fulfill Luddite fantasies, thereby missing the actual story.

Every five years the state prepares one, which outlines the kinds of projects and estimated dollar amounts of these to protect the coast. As part of the process, it tries to gauge the utility of these through a forecast of future scenarios, including the input of climate change. This expresses itself through an estimation of sea level rise (SLR).

The draft 2017 version outlines three scenarios for the rise. In Oct., 2015, a team of scientists and others forwarded their best guesses concerning the range of estimates. Naturally, given the notorious imprecision and lamentable track record in past predictions of this nature, the data they used was fraught with peril. For example, the research leaned on work from the National Climate Assessment (NCA) issued in 2014 by the Pres. Barack Obama Administration, a document replete with overstatements and mischaracterizations that made it more a sales pitch than informed source, and also the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report long on politics and short on science. As another, it utilized a Maryland report the conclusions of which those data simply did not support.

5.1.17

Term limits deter insufficiently-committed legislators

Another term-limited Louisiana legislator trying to jump ship early just adds to the data points confirming the wisdom of term limits on the position.

In the past year seven legislators in their final term either have left their posts early or have signaled a desire to do so. With two, state Rep. John Schroder and state Sen. Neil Riser, they hope to become Sen. John Kennedy’s successor as treasurer in a special election, a definite chance for promotion of which they may availed themselves even if not in their third terms as they don’t lose their current jobs if unsuccessful. But former state Reps. Bryan Adams, Joe Lopinto, and Jack Montoucet left shortly after their elections for other jobs in government, former state Rep. Tom Wilmott made a downhill move in a parish council seat, and state Sen. Danny Martiny has become the latest, looking to emulate Wilmott.

Possibly except for Schroder and Riser, none likely would have sought to leave before term’s end, and probably would have run for fourth terms, without term limits. However, given their natures – like tigers who when killing a human find they acquire a taste for us – these politicians have discovered they like wielding power and having taxpayers compensate them for it.

4.1.17

Edwards looks to collect RINOs as House strategy

Perhaps Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has thrown in the towel concerning state House of Representatives elections, judging by his pick to head the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Or has he simply shifted to a new strategy?

His selection of Democrat former state Rep. Jack Montoucet to lead DWF significantly departs from the preceding secretary Charlie Melancon. His pick a year ago seemed forced from outside, as Melancon had no real experience in that policy area, and while they ran around in the same political circles they had no real relationship prior to his becoming governor. By contrast, Montoucet and Edwards came into the Legislature together, became friends and allies, and Montoucet in his post-firefighter retirement runs a business related to DWF.

That all will help as Montoucet navigates tricky waters stirred by Melancon’s divisive leadership, wherein the former secretary tried to use the department as a shill for Edwards’ big government ideas, to run counter to other Gulf states’ policies on red snapper management, to halt next-to-no-cost popular programs with recreational fishers, and to kowtow to large commercial interests allied with fringe environmentalist elements. This resulted in internal turmoil, feuds with the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission that co-administers policy and with Republican Rep. Garret Graves, and an investigation into departmental practices that has political overtones.