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5.7.12

Legislators double down on hypocrisy, idiocy, illogic

Generally, when you’ve already made yourself look like an idiot, you need to stop flapping your gums because you’ll only compound that mistake. But when you’re trying to salvage political standing, going all in on stupid may be your best bet.

That’s the situation state Reps. Chris Hazel and Robert Johnson find themselves in over a political blow they suffered at the hands of Gov. Bobby Jindal. The governor outflanked Hazel when the representative tried to slip money into the state’s operating budget to keep open a prison up for closure that will save a few million dollars, when excess capacity exists across the state. Jindal thwarted the attempt that would allow Hazel to take credit for what he seems to think is the purpose of government, directly employing individuals in his district at the expense of taxpayers, by casting a line item veto to defeat the end-run.

When that veto first got announced, Hazel ranted about it with all of the intellectual persuasiveness of a moron. Not content with looking like a fool once, when contacted recently Hazel decided to burnish his credentials with another helping of asinine, if not hypocritical, comments. He said with this the governor was “paying back campaign contributions from private prisons,” and that by vetoing the line item he was ignoring the will of the chambers of the Legislature that had approved of the entire appropriations bill that it had been in.

4.7.12

Independence Day, 2012

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday after noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas.

Typically, on this day this space links to a site celebrating the United States of America's independence. But this year, due to a threat to one of our most cherished liberties, please check out this link.

3.7.12

Education reform opponents blame White for doing his job


Here and there, ideological opponents of recent reforms to improve elementary and secondary education in Louisiana seem to have gone foaming at the mouth over revelations that the administrator responsible for implementing them is … well, implementing them.

The shakedown cruise that begun after the legislation became law, with a compressed timeline because the changes are to go into effect this school year, exposed areas of needed clarity and supplementation. One such matter involved assessing whether schools involved in the scholarship voucher portion of the change had the capacity to handle the number of slots they could fill with students qualifying as initially authorized by the state.

Because of the tight time schedule, notifications went out to the schools on the basis of paperwork submitted. Then the Monroe News-Star published a piece that took a look at one of the dozens of schools accepted into the program that cast doubt upon its institutional ability to educate adequately the maximum number of students authorized under the program.

2.7.12

Jindal has right idea to swap tax breaks for lower rates

There’s a right way and a wrong way to perform tax simplification, and it would appear the most important figure at the anticipated outset of the task in Louisiana has got the right attitude about it all.

During last session of the Legislature it resolved to study the tax break structure of the state. Around $4 billion, or something approaching a third of all potential taxes collectible to the general fund, get shielded from collection by the state as a result of a myriad of such exemptions. Because of tight budgetary conditions over the past few years, covetous eyes have turned towards these in the hopes of the abolition of some of these might make up some revenue ground.

As it is, many of these exemptions are narrowly tailored to favor a certain activity, and often the narrower they are, the less revenue forgone exists. At the same time, even recapturing these revenues does not come without a price, as the extra economic activity produced by their presence disappears with theirs, chipping away at revenues.

1.7.12

Jindal's career enhanced, Landrieu's ended, by events


The end of June produced the two biggest days in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s political life. What transpired ends her political career even as it enhances Gov. Bobby Jindal’s.

Last Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court made known its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has little to do with the first part of its name and relevant to the second part is a total lie. Landrieu had cast the decisive vote that allowed it to continue to become law, but not before she proudly proclaimed that part of it contained, in essence, extra money for Louisiana to pay its Medicaid bills. Just before the convoluted procedures played out that foisted the law into being enacted, it was estimated this additional benefit would bring an extra $100 million a year in each of 2011 and 2012 to the state.

But, wonder of wonders, the extremely complicated language in the bill that tried to isolate Louisiana as the only state to benefit backfired, to the American taxpayers’ detriment but the state’s benefit. Instead of a two-year fix, it became a multi-year bonus at a much higher level. Louisiana stood in line to get as much as $700 million in those years, and as much as $3.6 billion in the years to follow. When Republicans took control of the House in 2011, they got through a supposed fix that still left the state $1.6 billion to the good through 2014.