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25.2.16

House takes tentative steps to right-size LA govt



At least House Republicans have tried to stand on their own two legs to face Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Now let’s see if they actually can get upright and stay there.



Whether they can depends on what happens later today, when the entire chamber considers tax bills forwarded by the Ways and Means Committee. Rather than bottle up bills by declaring the unseemly ones involuntarily deferred, the committee allowed everything to proceed to the floor by the usual favorable passage for ones liked but also by signaling lukewarm interest in some that went through “without action” and hostility towards others passed “unfavorably.”



And that duel also will play out in the days to come with the House Appropriations Committee forwarding about $87 million more in cuts, encapsulated in state Rep. Cameron Henry’s HB 122, beyond the $190 million Edwards said they could pry from his hands. The mix and form of the tax bills and the final shape of HB 122 will determine the strength of the House GOP’s commitment to right-sizing government.

24.2.16

Inefficient EITC needs to go to cut LA spending


Concerning the dueling between bills to double or to eliminate Louisiana’s Earned Income Tax Credit, the state’s dire budget situation strengthens the already-compelling case to repeal it.



HB 4 by state Rep. Tony Bacala would end it for next tax year, while next-door HB 5 by state Rep. Walt Leger would send it to seven percent of federal adjusted gross income for next tax year. A House panel heard the bills together last week.



The program, estimated to give out $47 million to Louisianans claiming it this year with about half of that in nonrefundable form, at best represents a crude and inefficient way to alleviate poverty that in theory might work but finds itself in the scope of poverty programs working at cross-purposes. Its wastefulness comes from both inappropriate payouts and treating a symptom rather than the disease.

23.2.16

Will Democrats contest or satisfice in LA CD 4?

It’s early in the year for showers to bring flowers, but not too early for elections to spring forth candidates, as a population explosion of them has come in Louisiana’s Fourth Congressional District for its contesting in the fall.



Within the past month no fewer than five Republicans have announced and/or filed paperwork to organize their candidacies for the open seat. They include physician Dr. Trey Baucum, former state Sen. Elbert Guillory, Shreveport City Councilman Oliver Jenkins, lawyer Rick John, and state Rep. Mike Johnson.



Guillory perhaps has the highest profile, having recently run for lieutenant governor and of some renown as the only black Republican legislator in the state for over a century when he made the switch from Democrat a few years ago. However, he ran an underwhelming race for the state’s second spot, gathering only eight percent of the vote. Then again, he spent just around $56,000 when his opponents far more than he. This demonstrated either or both that he has a core of support, likely proportionally higher in the district than statewide, and that he did not do much to have potential donors take him seriously.

22.2.16

Meatless prison menu ploy provokes comic relief



As a columnist, sometimes there’s just no way to swing and miss with some ideas that present an irresistible mix of incredulity and ridiculousness. Such came our way when Hollywood personality Pamela Anderson made cuisine recommendations to the Louisiana Department of Corrections.



People for Ethical Treatment of Animals spokeswoman Anderson, who now eschews meat but some years ago didn’t mind a helping or two of it, with her organization apparently got wind of the state’s budgetary difficulties and magnanimously informed Gov. John Bel Edwards that he the state could save some dough by having its imprisoned population go vegan. No doubt the governor’s eyes popped out more than usual when he saw the estimated savings in the neighborhood of $620,000 and, perhaps had not the DOC counseled otherwise, he would have gone scurrying to legislative leaders proclaiming this bonanza would end all difficulties.



In fact, according to the DOC, “While there may be some offenders who wouldn’t mind the change, let’s just say that any savings realized from the switch to vegan would easily be surpassed by the extensive damage caused to our facilities by those not so appreciative of the idea,” with that response thereby throwing cold water on her gracious idea to come and cook a vegan meal herself for the guys and gals behind bars. Just as well; the response made no mention of the inevitable rioting that would occur should she do that, for example at Angola, given the relative deprivation in the air, with most if not all of Angola’s male inmates having not seen a female of her physique in some time, if ever in their lives.