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1.3.21

Concealed permit repeal to stress Edwards

There’s no good excuse for the Louisiana Legislature to hold off on removing the permit requirement to carry a concealed firearm – which puts Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in a bind.

HB 16 by Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick would make it legal for any adult otherwise not convicted of a crime that disqualifies possession of a firearm to carry a concealed firearm. Since Edwards assumed office, he has signed several pieces of legislation into law incrementally increasing the scope of legality of having concealed firearms without a permit. But neither a constitutional amendment nor a statute essentially mimicking HB 16 of 2021 made it out of committee.

Other states have moved ahead. Indiana looks well on its way to become the 19th state to adopt this, and Tennessee seems poised to follow. Opponents keep offering the same stale arguments that somehow mayhem will increase with permit-less carry.

28.2.21

Unreal Edwards budget seeks to grow LA govt

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards last week presented a budget that begs the state not to look behind the curtain and asks that it keep digging itself a deeper hole.

A good portion of the statutorily-required presentation made by Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget comprised of shoulder-breaking attempts to have the Edwards Administration pat itself on its own back. After a brief excursion into how budget projections bounced around in the past year because of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the impact of Edwards’ restrictions on commercial activity, a variety of data attempted to demonstrate improvement in various economic and social indicators. Tellingly, he emphasized government-led projects obtained while hardly speaking of larger private sector trends – for reasons made obvious below.

However, this provided an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of how recent budgeting may have affected the state’s economic health. Largely federal policy influences all states’ economies, so to understand the impact of an individual state’s economic policy, as influenced by fiscal policy promulgated through a budget, all states must be compared.

Below is a table listing five measures of economic health for a state, including changes in per capita personal income, population, total employment, and in the unemployment rate. The first column gives the ranking and statistic (percentage change, except for unemployment rate) in parentheses for the first term of Edwards, the second for the first term of his predecessor Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the third Jindal’s second term. As budgets enact during the state’s fiscal year and it is assumed it takes six months for their policy effects to infiltrate the economy, except for unemployment rate, the appropriate years for analysis are, respectively, 2017-19, 2009-13, and 2013-17 (except for population, which is taken mid-year and doesn’t include 2009 because of data limitations). Unemployment rate is not ranked by change but by its listed average for the year; thus, the intervals for it are 2008-12, 2012-16, and 2016-20 with the last year’s statistic reported. State spending (exclusive of federal dollars) at these interval endpoints also is listed, in per capita terms: 

Statistic

Edwards

Jindal 1st

Jindal 2nd

Per capita income

27th (3.9)

32nd (2.9)

46th (1.8)

Population

45th (-0.2)

27th (0.6)

29th (0.3)

Total employment

42nd (0.9)

19th (1.1)

44th (0.5)

Unemployment rate

36th (7.2)

16th (6.4)

47th (6.1)

State spending per capita

$4,257 (11.3)

$3,946 (-8.2)

$3,826 (-3.0)

Two things are worth noting here. First, Louisiana is performing below average to poorly compared to other states over Edwards’ terms and budgets. Second, it is no better than Jindal’s second term, and much worse than his first. The slight advantages the Edwards years has on Jindal’s second set in terms of employment and greater one on income are offset by the depopulation of the state under Edwards: less competition for jobs and fewer people that relatively boosted the average income (which is calculated by population into GDP).

So, relative to other states, Louisiana’s fiscal policy as reflected in its budget hasn’t delivered under Edwards. It didn’t under Jindal’s second term, either, but that was marked as a period like Edwards with tax increases even as per capita spending decreased a bit, while Edwards more than doubled the inflation rate in spending increases. Clearly, Jindal’s first term of tax cuts and spending cuts brought the best economic results to the state.

With this historical data available for analysis, after the rapid growth in taxing and spending under Edwards the best strategy – especially with economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and a predicted dire revenue drop of $660 million from this time last year from taxes, fees, and licenses – would hold the line on, if not cut, spending. Plus, special one-time monies propped up the budget last year and this one that Dardenne asserted will come again for fiscal year 2022 may not return for the next. If things turn out better than expected, there are plenty of nonrecurring needs to which those monies could go. Otherwise, the prudent approach at the very least would refuse authorizing new commitments, if not make reductions.

Yet that mode of thinking goes against every fiber in Edwards’ being. So, Dardenne in his presentation acknowledged this reality, then tried to spin his way out it. Thusly explaining the sunshine blown up legislators’ skirts when in reality the state lags – badly – most others explicitly, precisely because of the ethos contained in Edwards’ past budgets. You don’t turn things around by doing more of the same that has caused you to underperform. Indeed, he argued against decreasing the size of government when the Legislature’s Republican leadership announced they would purse tax reform in the upcoming session.

Instead, he emphasized how leftovers from the federal government created more one-time money for FY 2022, about $200 million more in general fund monies, that the plan largely plowed into new continuing commitments. Therefore, the package lards up $400 across-the-board pay raises for educators and half of that for other school employees (despite the state ranking in the middle of the pack of spending per pupil yet about at the bottom of student achievement), and pay raises for higher education (despite institutions receiving separate money from the federal government in the hundreds of millions of dollars) and the civil service. More money would be shoveled into the Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars (the quasi-merit, quasi-entitlement program paying for college tuition) and GO Grants (need-based college costs program).

Most audaciously, after discussing how changes advocated by Edwards that would empty jails did accomplish that, Dardenne admitted what the Edwards Administration had refused to acknowledge previously: the changes would foist increases in spending on this, as reflected by a request for an increase of nearly $24 million. And, the budget didn’t really incorporate other costs that could crop up in fiscal year 2022, such as replenishing the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund in which the state currently rests in a $133 million hole (and when pressed by questioning, Dardenne begged off estimating costs for disaster bills due).

All in all, the plan presented rejects sound fiscal sense in favor of an ideological agenda focusing on bigger government. By trying to install new continuing commitments that can’t be sustained after the disappearance of federal gifts and by fiscal policy that doesn’t achieve acceptable economic growth as measurable by historical data, this budget attempts to bake in future tax increases that keep unnecesarily-inflated government.

25.2.21

Useless climate panel asks to waste our time

If you want a textbook definition of a rigged game that inevitably will follow GIGO, look no further than the appeal sent out by Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel EdwardsLouisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force – with the whole operation on the taxpayer dime.

This panel, filled mostly with true believers of the unscientific theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, was charged with finding a way of eliminating greenhouse gases in the state by 2050, matching a United Nations’ goal now adopted by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden. This operates under the unverified assumption that the fewer than 5 percent of GHG emissions by humans of the total planetary amount somehow tip things so out of balance that significant temperature elevation occurs.

That hypothesis fails as historically temperatures changes have not tracked, even remotely, changes in human GHG output. However, temperature changes do track well the observed cyclical activities of the sun and its radiation releases and those consequences. As solar magnetic activity decreases, more cosmic rays hit the Earth, causing more clouding and volcanic activity (which produces another form of clouds), thus cooling temperatures. The GHG amount released increases as do temperatures, depending upon soil moisture as well as how the oceans, which trap the vast majority of heat on the planet, exchange heat with the atmosphere, which contains a far smaller amount.

24.2.21

Brumley to foist woke theory on LA schools

Add Louisiana Superintendent of Elementary and Secondary Education Cade Brumley to the roll call of the woke.

Brumley signaled fealty to the notion that systemic racism built into law and the Constitution on behalf of the white majority against non-white minorities when he proclaimed a reeducation program wouldcommence for public school teachers and administrators. Ostensibly to reduce student suspensions, particularly among blacks whose rate is twice that of whites, it seeks to show adults and students how to set goals, demonstrate empathy for others, establish positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

All well and good. But the intended program contains a unit on social and emotional learning utilizing a “racial equity” approach. This paradigm claims that “implicit bias” towards minorities results in unjust outcomes in educator actions such as punishing through suspensions, that end up prejudiced unfairly against minorities – although statistics routinely show students of Asian background receive suspensions at lower rates than white students – in addition to the impact of explicit bias, although such overt racism supposedly emerges far less frequently.

23.2.21

Nungesser, Landry coming; Edwards staying

The big news surrounding the filing of 2020 campaign finance reports concerns the office of governor – both present and future.

With Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards term-limited, several candidates could jockey their way into succeeding him. The best gauge of that comes from the amount of money picked up three years out, because you have to start early to win this one. (Edwards’ out-of-nowhere win in 2015 being very much the historical exception; he didn’t start raising money in earnest until two years out).  Money doesn’t determine elections, but it does demonstrate breadth of support and faith in that candidacy. It won’t tell you who will win, but can tell you who can.

If several hundred thousand dollars raised in 2020, the candidate will be a serious contender in 2023. A couple of hundred thousand means that one could turn into a serious threat, but will have to pick up the pace. Below that, chances are pretty much zero unless you’re a big name in politics already and/or you can fund yourself approaching eight figures.

22.2.21

Bad LA weather cancels columnist's CAGW faith

If nothing else, arch-leftist Mark Ballard of the Baton Rouge Advocate has a lousy sense of timing that should shake his faith.

On Feb. 13, Ballard – who also files state government stories for the newspaper that often but not always hold his biases in check – used his weekly opinion column to discuss a Feb. 10 joint meeting of the Louisiana Legislature’s National Resources committees. He seemed none too pleased about the subject matter, comparing its breadth and depth to exercises performed under the auspices of the Communist Party of China, because it featured critiques of Democrat Pres. Joe Biden’s restrictive forays against the fossil fuel industry and little else.

Such is the blinding tunnel vision of a true believer of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, as Ballard verified when insinuating in his first three paragraphs that gases from burning such fuels causes the state to lose a “football field of wetlands … every 100 minutes.” In fact, science finds no such connection at all; if anything, the causality is reversed where rising temperatures come from changes in oceanic and atmosphere heat exchanges and soil moisture. These explain much better why almost next to no statistical correlation exists between amount of carbon dioxide produced by human activities and global temperature changes. And some of the acreage loss has a far more certain provenance: a slow, constant rise in sea levels for two centuries, beginning well before human-caused change theoretically occurred.

21.2.21

Futile storm response threatens BC incumbents

The recent lashing Mother Nature gave to northwest Louisiana also struck a blow against Bossier City politicians running for reelection.

Nearly a week’s worth of some of the coldest temperatures combined with some of the most voluminous wintry precipitation in Bossier City history paralyzed the city. During its worst couple of days, travelling major thoroughfares became impossible except for drivetrain-enhanced vehicles with experienced drivers, the city suffered rolling but short blackouts, and some residents lost water service entirely while the entire city underwent an extended boil order because of breaks in city water lines that reduced water pressure to half normal.

Things were so bad that the Bossier City Council cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting on Mardi Gras. It wouldn’t have to do that absent the negligence of Republican Mayor Lo Walker and the Council through their failure to prepare for these circumstances.

18.2.21

LA dodged TX overreliance on renewable energy

Texas may have made itself unprepared for extreme wintery conditions, but years ago it saved Louisiana from itself that made the latter suffer much less from the Mardi Gras freeze of 2021.

Across the Bayou State, the dip well below freezing with ample precipitation in some places triggered intermittent power outages left as many as three percent of the population without power for more than a short period of time. The cold can affect the extraction and transport of nonrenewable fuels that keep generators going, as well as generator operation itself, plus demand increases to stave off the cold, both from consumers and operators who need heating to keep transport and generation going. Yet few Louisiana consumers, fortunately, went without power for more than a few hours.

However, in the Lone Star State around a tenth of the population suffered sustained power outages. This was exacerbated by the state’s nonparticipation in any of the regional power grids, although some parts are outside of it, which doesn’t permit it to import power into about 90 percent of the state. That system also has few incentives to increase resiliency in transport and generation, including provision at peak times such as this.

17.2.21

Kennedy riles Cassidy-like Never Trumpers

Although Louisiana’s junior senator has stirred a lot of controversy this month, don’t sleep on the state’s senior senator who stimulated debate about populism in politics, particularly among conservatives. And in the end, the topic loops back unto itself.

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy shocked his political base first by accepting the fair-to-middling contention that the Senate could try an impeached private citizen, then by assenting to the extraordinarily weak case that GOP former Pres. Donald Trump incited insurrection. Wiser heads prevailed to reject that, including Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

However, Kennedy provoked his own hullabaloo when he held forth on national television about the new U.S. special climate envoy, former Sec. of State, and failed Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry. Kerry travelled to and from Iceland by private plane in 2019 to receive an award for his environmental activism, and faced questioning from the local media about the appropriateness of it all, which he defended as necessary “for somebody like me.”

16.2.21

Cassidy missteps encouraging closed primaries

Louisiana’s Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy’s votes to proceed with an impeachment trial of GOP former Pres. Donald Trump and to convict will affect his political career, perhaps fatally. If so, a major contributor to that extinguishing may come from a spillover effect regarding the state’s election system.

Republican elected officials, party organs, and activists almost universally have condemned Cassidy for his actions. And they appear ready to visit punishment on Cassidy through changing the method by which the state votes for federal elected officials.

After using it in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles for national elections, Louisiana abandoned a closed primary system and reverted to its current blanket primary system. Elected officials at all levels of government have revived talk of reinstituting it, at least for national elections.