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Campbell jilts little guy for crony capitalists

Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell would rather support crony capitalists than the little guy.

That much he proved last week when the Public Service Commission changed its rules regarding net metering. This refers to the legal requirement that utilities pay customers who generate their own power through solar energy for any excess above which the customer uses. After the end of this year, they will pay wholesale; previously, they paid retail.

Democrat Lambert Bossiere joined Campbell in opposing the change, while Republicans Mike Francis, Craig Greene, and Eric Skrmetta voted in the majority. Advocates noted that this roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour represented a subsidization paid by 99 percent of residential customers to the other one percent for no adequate reason. In particular, buyback participants put no money into overhead for building and maintaining transmission capacity, which otherwise justifies the difference between wholesale and retail.


Make case before asking for more taxation

Here’s an example of wrong-headed fiscal policy that tries to squeeze more out Louisiana taxpayers.

Next month, most registered voters in Bossier Parish face a ballot question whether essentially to double property taxes they pay to support the Cypress-Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District. A state political subdivision since 1958, local residents mainly know the area in the middle of the parish for its water recreation possibilities, park and recreational vehicle/camping areas, and its small zoo and Nature Center. Additionally, about 750 private properties abut the water, with that shoreline regulated by the district.

In 2014, voters approved with 57 percent of the vote a reauthorization of a 1.54 mill property tax in the 65 of 81 precincts attached to the district (that since has rolled forward to 1.56 mills). At the time, the district’s commission – comprised of appointees by local governments, one of which includes the executive director Robert Berry – faced monetary woes and pledged to cut back on some offerings while increasing user fees to get the district into the black.


Rispone not serious about better than Edwards

Now we have our answer about Louisiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone: it’s more than about doing better than Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

When businessman Rispone formally announced his candidacy almost a year ago, he explained that he entered the contest because “we can do better” than Edwards. A longtime and major contributor to conservative causes and candidates, Rispone entered the race first as other major GOP potential contestants dithered. Eventually, only Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham took the plunge.

Noted then, given the large amount of personal resources he could commit to the effort, was he effectively could expose Edwards as an old style, big government populist out of step with the Louisiana majority on a majority of issues. Edwards won in 2015 only because of fratricide among strong Republican candidates and, without a visible record, then could obscure this reality.


Edwards puts politics over neediest people

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards needing to escape some unfavorable public scrutiny catalyzed efforts to find help for over a thousand Louisiana families with children with disabilities.

Without fanfare, close to the end of the Louisiana Legislature’s 2019 regular session, Edwards signed HB 199 by Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton into law. Act 421 requires the state to follow the “TEFRA option,” first made available in 1982 that permits Medicaid assistance to families with a child with disability regardless of family income and assets. As long as the cost of care for the client at home comes out less than if institutionalized, the state must provide similar services as in institutions.

By way of example, Horton recently visited with a new program recipient as part of a media story. Until the law went into effect recently, that family paid $74,000 a year out of pocket for care, putting it under a severe financial strain. This highlights the perversity of existing Medicaid policy, where families with lower incomes receive these services for free, but those middle-class and above have to divest themselves of assets they earned, often by spending themselves into poverty because of bad fortune in order to qualify for Medicaid services.


Money data not kind to Gatti's reelection try

Republican state Sen. Ryan Gatti doesn’t have just recently-released campaign figures about which to worry. Some past numbers aren’t going to help his reelection chances in his right-of-center district, either.

Last week, he and principal opponent Republican Robert Mills filed their data for 30 days prior to the election. Gatti found his $148,000 raised couldn’t match the $192,000 Mills raised; Mills outspent him $142,000 to $111,000; and, most alarmingly, he had just $40,000 in the bank for the stretch run while Mills sat on $174,000.

Worse for him, Gatti went deep into his own pockets to squeak out a win in his previous election. Making dozens of loans to himself, many after the election’s conclusion, at the end of 2018 he had loaned himself almost $422,000 and had fewer than $75,000 left in his campaign account – perhaps explaining why he fought so hard from his Senate perch to kill legislation that not only almost certainly would have decreased vehicle insurance rates but also would have made his personal injury attorney practice less lucrative. He kicked in another $8,000 or so in 2019.


More polls, but not more LA gov race certainty

Two more polls about the Louisiana governor’s race continue to offer little in the way of clarity about how the contest will pan out.

Last month came the second iteration of a Market Research Insights poll whose initial effort varied considerably from almost all other polling. It forecast an incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards reelection without having to go to a runoff, although with less certainty than the previous incarnation.

The first poll’s divergent results came in large part due to a sampling frame that likely disproportionately drew from Edwards supporters. It’s possible that the pollster’s guess in this regard could turn out correct on Oct. 12, but runs against the field of play. The second such poll didn’t have all of its statistics made public, but it’s almost certain it used the same sampling frame and therefore has the same validity issue.


LA has advantage over others stuck on stupid

If you’re Louisiana, you come out a winner when other states or their local governments go off the deep end.

Dozens of cities in leftist states such as California, Washington, and Massachusetts are studying proposals to ban or limit the use of natural gas in commercial and residential buildings. Berkeley, CA, already has done this for new construction. Activists backing this idea argue that the electric grid has picked up more renewably powered sources while gas can leak and allegedly contribute to climate change.

At first, this statist boycott might seem to hurt Louisiana. Since the fracking revolution that launched the state into a battle with Oklahoma and Alaska for third-most amount of natural gas produced annually, prices generally have hovered in the $10-15 per thousand cubic feet range for residential and settled in around $8 for commercial use, netting some nice returns for state producers. Better, with new facilities opening beginning in 2016 and still expanding, the state has exploded from nothing into trailing only Texas in gas exportation.


Speaking truth to power on Medicaid charade

Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham made a good start in his critique of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ expansion of Medicaid, but perhaps didn’t go far enough in explicating the mendacity and stupidity behind that ill-fated decision.

Last week Abraham, who faces off against Edwards for governor next month, held a news conference where he criticized Edwards for his decision to expand Medicaid and they way he did it. Abraham pointed out that the amount of state money going to it continues to increase rapidly, which Edwards refuses to acknowledge, and that Edwards has a history of lackadaisical attention to efficient management to root out waste identified by the Legislative Auditor as likely running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Abraham could have added that Edwards has tried to inflate Medicaid rolls intentionally. The incumbent planned all along to stuff as many people as possible onto Medicaid rolls and then use that freebie as a campaign talking point to buy reelection votes. He deliberately dismantled more stringent eligibility standards implemented late in his predecessor’s term that would have reduced fraudulent payouts. Only after the Auditor began scrutinizing the level of waste did the Department of Health expedite a new verification system into operation. Just the initial purge of ineligible enrollees lopped off around 6 percent of the total, which in fiscal year 2018 terms meant the state wasted $180 million.


Caddo can expand youth jail without tax hike

Just in time to create a campaign issue comes a warning from the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court.

Democrat Juvenile Judge Paul Young sounded the alarm to local media about the impact of criminal justice changes over a year ago. When taking affect Mar. 1, 17-year-olds accused of nonviolent crimes who previously would have gone through the adult system instead went into the juvenile system.

In Caddo Parish, one of just a few parishes – all with large populations – with its own dedicated family or juvenile court, this means increased processing into the Caddo Parish Juvenile Detention Center. And last week for the first time it went over capacity, with Young announcing as a result he freed a juvenile he ordinarily would have had held.


Abraham gets it over Rispone, barely

If you’re fed up with Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, a candidate forum last week gave you an answer to replace him as Louisiana’s top executive: Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham.

It’s not that Republican businessman Eddie Rispone would be a bad choice at all; he certainly tops Edwards convincingly on a wide range of policy issues. It’s just that Abraham does a bit better on the whole on issues where he and Rispone diverge.

The forum, hosted by Baton Rouge area women’s Republican clubs, provided the first public opportunity after qualifying for the Oct. 12 election for the GOP candidates to make a distinction between themselves in person. With a runoff almost certain and the advancing Republican at least an even-money bet to win, the choice between the two selects the most likely person to become governor next year.