Search This Blog


Optimistic poll reading can't hide Landrieu's vulnerability

There’s much less than meets the eye on the surface concerning a recent poll put out by a liberal outfit concerning the reelection chances of Sen. Mary Landrieu a little less than two years from now.

Public Policy Polling reported that Landrieu bested hypothetical matchups in a contest on the strength of a rating of 47 percent approval, 45 percent disapproval. This provides an interesting contract to another recent poll that gave her a “likeability” rating of 59 percent. The ranges in which she would defeat presumptive GOP challengers were from 3 to 12 points. She had double-digit leads against the two most likely such challengers, Reps. Bill Cassidy and John Fleming.

The Landrieu camp might be of good cheer to learn of this sign that at this time she is quite competitive – not the greatest thing for an incumbent who to feel secure should be over 50 percent in approval and whose likely opponents have a large number of respondents to the matchup questions who as of yet are unable to rate them – until they look at the distribution of respondents in terms of how they voted last November. In this sample, only 54 percent voted for former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while 40 percent voted for Pres. Barack Obama.


Special education funding change tackles subpar outcomes

If done correctly, proposed changes in funding for special education students by Louisiana’s Department of Education promise to improve the state’s dismal standing, where only half of the national average of such students earn a high school diploma.

Only two states have a worse rate than does Louisiana, at 29 percent. Currently, funding apportions 150 percent of the regular amount for a child classified as having a disability.  State Superintendant John White proposes making it a sliding scale per child, dependent equally upon severity of disability, setting for education, and student progress.

Really disappointing about the current graduation trend is that Louisiana actually has a lower proportion of its students in some kind of special education track. While the national average (for 2009-10) is 13.2 percent, in Louisiana (for 2010-11) it is 11.8 percent. And while nationally the highest single category, which involves the least intensive supports, is specific learning disabilities at 4.9 percent, in Louisiana it’s only 3.4 percent. Given that means the proportions of more severely disabled students are about equal national to state, that can explain some of why the Louisiana graduation rate is half the national rate (because a higher proportion of Louisiana students need more intensive supports), but surely not entirely.


Benedict reign helped American Church, LA dioceses

As Pope Benedict XVI concludes his papacy with his remarkable abdication, he leaves the worldwide Church and in Louisiana better than when he ascended into his position.

The great struggle the Church must face in the future is the effects of the hubris of man, where increasingly many believe their wisdom is greater than God’s and, from a political perspective, threatens to put into practice public policy that encourages disordered relations among men and between men and God. As an accomplished scholar, Benedict illuminated the proper relationship, and in performing his papal duties he put them into practice – and the American Church needed this perhaps more than any other.

In matters of faith and doctrine, he initiated a long-overdue review of the consistency of affiliated organizations and practices, some of which were drifting in the direction of embracing ephemeral, social causes with views founded more on human ideology than on Scripture. Louisiana played a significant role regarding one of the most notorious, when at the 2009 meeting in New Orleans of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that group continued on a path of creating its own, inauthentic version of Catholicism, last year Benedict finally had to appoint apostolic overseers to begin steering the Vatican organization of nuns back towards proper understanding and application of doctrine.


Solving debt crunch gives LA chance to make lemonade

It’s not that Louisiana has run out of money (or, as one breathless headline asserts, is “broke”) to pay for capital improvements, it’s that it faces a constitutional limit on what it can spend on them, compounded by slow growth in state revenues. And this points to the key to resolution, entirely within the spirit of the concept of the limitation.

The Constitution places a debt ceiling of six percent of state-generated revenues, as ascertained most recently by the Revenue Estimating Conference, on the total amount of debt outstanding at any given time, this put into place after the blatant end-run around the Constitution by former Gov. Buddy Roemer and the Legislature with its creation of the notorious Louisiana Recovery District that enabled debt to be spent on current operations. The problem that has come to the state is the slower, near zero, growth in these revenues have not kept up with the rate of increase in capital spending, creating a coming crunch predicted to hit the ceiling by the end of the legislative session.

In other words, the state take hasn’t increased as fast as its capital outlays, and the limit will choke off adding any more debt necessary to start or complete projects until current receipts can pay back to eat into the overall level. This seems to have caught everybody by surprise; last year at this time, Treas. John Kennedy issued the annual report on debt capacity which showed a comfortable cushion for a couple of decades to come, as well as a level of debt $30 million lower than actually transpired for this year. Even in the breach, several solutions present themselves, but almost all go against the grain of fiscal conservatism preached and, even if not always nevertheless often, practiced by the Republican-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.