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Must hurdle dependency attitude to right-size LA govt

At a certain point, the parent must facilitate the child’s independence and the child must accept that, lest an unhealthy dependency ensue. But judging from the reaction of Louisiana’s Council for the Development of French in Louisiana to a budget cut enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal, you can tell those involved with CODOFIL aren’t grown up enough to take the step willingly even after the point was reached long ago.

The group and its supporters bemoaned the fact that Jindal, given broad instructions by the Legislature, to cut $15 million out of the operating budget for next fiscal year using his own discretion, lopped off from it $100,000 from what had been a budgeted $257,000, an almost 40 percent slicing. Making the leaving of the overgrown toddler, now at the ripe old age of 44, hungry for more mother’s milk was the abrupt separation on this occasion, with the Jindal Administration not giving it any prior notice.

But this long history created extreme separation anxiety with the head of its board of directors William Arceneaux declaring that its response in the future would be to “to go back to the Legislature and fight for those programs.” He clearly doesn’t get it – is it really the responsibility of the Louisiana taxpayer to duplicate services offered by the Department of Education in French language education and the agency of which it’s part, the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism? Should citizens really have to pay more so a few thousand students get some additional instruction in French, and tens of thousands of more some very slight additional exposure to the language? It might be kick for some involved, but what real value does it bring to the state as a whole?


Federal, state insurers need to stop subsidizing riskiness

The fate of the continuing operation of the National Flood Insurance Program should be of more than passing concern to Louisianans, being that no state has benefitted more from its existence or has done the most to put it in the red and prompt its reform. And it also provides lessons for the state’s own policy of acting as property insurer.

Since 2008, the federal government-run program established four decades prior has operated by a series of short-term authorizations under existing rules that continue to drain federal taxpayers to subsidize those wishing to own property in riskier areas. Its rates set below real levels needed to offset actual risk have meant in few years have premiums at least matched losses paid, building up a steady deficit that has caused it soon to hit its $20.8 billion borrowing limit, and with no real pressures to conform to market rates having driven all private insurers of flood risk out early in the program’s history.

Actually, not a lot of the present borrowing authority had been used until 2005, when Louisiana broke the bank and then-limit of $1.5 billion with its hurricane disasters. Although one of the highest users of the program, ranking third in absolute numbers behind only the much larger in area and population Florida and Texas in policies written, the value of them, and their premiums paid amount, historically the state has sucked out resources from the program far out of proportion to its population. With about 1.5 percent of the nation’s people, since its inception the state has been the source of over a fifth of all losses historically and a staggering two-fifths of all claims monies paid out – enough of the latter to account for almost all of the money borrowed in the program’s history to date.


Adverse ruling gives LA Democrats electoral opportunity

Louisiana Democrats have their opening, the potential to secure a small foothold but when you don’t have anything at all it’s an improvement.

Any realistic chance that the state would not have to fork over in the neighborhood of $105 million evaporated yesterday when the U.S Supreme Court denied hearing an appeal by Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to a judgment it owed $105 million in penalties in a class-action lawsuit. State courts had ruled the public corporation had broken state law in making payments too late to policy-holder claims. The state-owned and run organization sells property insurance, mostly the kinds and in areas that private insurers are discouraged from offering, and is backed by those revenues but also can levy an assessment on any policy-holder in the state.

Citizens is run by a board of directors, some appointed by the governor from interest group selections, others by legislative leaders, and even has the state treasurer or his designee. But the official with the most assumed control, the one whose designee his chief of staff serves as chairwoman of it, who steers the process to hire its chief executive officer, and who seems to speak in all official situations concerning it, is Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon.


Jindal veto explanation consistent with constitution's logic

We all need a little help from time to time, some more than and more often than others, and it’s the Baton Rouge Advocate in need this time. Much as a kindergartner needs assistance in understanding 2+2=4, the editorialists at the paper require aid to comprehend why Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a series of laws that could have continued the tax on automobile rentals across the state. Let’s see what we can do to remove them from their confusion.

The expiring law, first enacted in 1990 but extended several times since, allowed levying of a three percent tax on short-term rentals that were not replacement vehicles subject to a repair of another, of which one-half percent would be remitted back to the parish. Four bills passed to try to keep the local portion on the books, three identifying certain parishes and the other general to the state.

The Advocate got stumped because Jindal wrote he vetoed them because he pledged not to “raise taxes,” while it argued that this was a tax “renewal” at the same local or aggregate amount, stating “If it’s a renewal, it’s not raising a tax, by definition. It’s keeping it where it exists.” Further, it argued that, as the mechanism in all cases was to provide a local option election to impose the tax, this gave the tax added validity as the people would choose whether to put it upon themselves. Then, somewhat contradictorily, it also tried to provide validation of it by saying local citizens would pay next to none of it anyway. Finally, it defines Jindal’s actions as hypocritical because he has permitted revenue-raising actions, such as on college tuition and other agency fees, to go forward based upon fee-for-service models, but not on what it calls tax “renewals.”


Fake outrage over funds shift good theater, not good govt

A minor jurisdictional dispute over location of a program in state government points out the major flaw of legislative micromanaging caused by legislators wedded to special interests and agendas who wish to appear like they are solving problems when in fact they are doing nothing of the sort, if not encouraging the opposite.

Last week, it became news that, over two weeks after the fact, the Elderly Protection Services unit’s budget authority had been moved from the Governor’s Office to the Department of Health and Hospitals, even as its administrative home remained there. This means a memorandum of understanding will have to be written for DHH to perform these services.

This wimpering denouement concluded a needlessly big argument over small potatoes. As have other governors in the past, earlier in the session Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to combine the functions of the Office of Elderly Affairs, located deep in the Division of Administration and in part to coordinate a number of tasks mandated by federal law and funding provided by it, into DHH. Since the GOEA, which gets about $45 million, oversees the Older Americans Act, it’s not an illogical place for it to be. However, at the same time, it performs a number of functions that not only have little to do with that kind of role, they also are largely duplicative in required oversight needs of others being performed in other parts of government with more expertise to do them.