Search This Blog


Manage surplus right to spare both vouchers, hawks

All of Gov. Bobby Jindal and chicken/budget “hawks” everywhere ought to be glad that the Revenue Estimating Conference agreed on a higher forecast for revenues eligible in spending for this current fiscal year and the next. They better be, because unforeseen expenses might gobble up a good chunk of this.

The REC adopted a forecast that predicted $129 million more in revenue for finish up this year, and $155 million more available for the next. It appears part of the former amount ought to be spoken for, according to testimony given by Education Superintendent John White, stemming from the recent court decision that invalidated the funding mechanism for the state’s scholarship voucher program.

As part of that, the state’s Supreme Court also redefined that legislative instrument responsible for funding the state’s Minimum Foundation Program, calling it really like a law despite its legal designation as a resolution. The MFP is a formula created by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which employs White, to direct state funding to school district operating expenses and must be accepted or rejected by the Legislature by concurrent resolution prior to the end of a regular session. If rejected, the previous year’s formula remains in place.


Poll confirms Landrieu reelection hope deteriorating

Dueling polls give a conflicting picture on how Louisianans react to expanded gun control. But the real story emerging is how Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s chances at reelection are dwindling to nothing.

A couple of weeks ago Public Policy Polling, which hires out to Democrats, published results alleging that support for certain senators, including Landrieu, dropped if they voted against a bill known as “Manchin-Toomey” after its sponsors that would increase the amount and intrusiveness of background checks for ownership, expanding a system that, if anything, increases the likelihood of crimes being committed with guns. Landrieu voted for the bill.

Then yesterday a poll put out by Defend Louisiana, begun as a pro-gun rights by Republican state Rep. Jeff Thompson, showed in contrast that people were less likely to vote for Landrieu as a result of that vote. Haughtily, the Landrieu campaign sniffed that this result was part of a “push poll,” meaning one that had questions designed to lead respondents to a certain answer.


Anti-privatization bills touted with delusion, dishonesty

Today at hearings of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, state Rep. Kenny Havard might repeat what he said about his HB 240 on a previous occasion that the bill was not against privatization. Should he do so, it merely proves that he is ignorant or disingenuous.

Havard’s bill, along with the nearly-identical HB 519 by state Rep. Cameron Henry, would place numerous roadblocks to privatizing state government services. Currently, state law has the executive branch negotiate any such agreement and report it to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, where this does have not a specific legislative prohibition such as if a state-owned hospital has its emergency room closed or is cut more that 35 percent in funding or in the case of privatizing benefits administration. The JLCB only may review and require additional information, but it cannot intervene in any way unless for a particular type of transaction the law specifically states it must approve. Meanwhile, the Administrative Procedure Act and internal executive branch rules provide many oversight opportunities to vet a contracting decision.

Not only do these bills require that contracts of a certain size (from minimums of $500,000 to $5 million depending on the bill and kind of contract, with some being entirely exempt) go in front of particular legislative committees for approval, but they create a burdensome and discriminatory process to get there. At the theoretical level they are noxious because they allow for legislative micromanaging of executing the law; there’s no sense in having a full-time executive branch to perform its lawful functions if an inexpert part-time Legislature, or parts of it, can veto administrative actions at this level.


Extra sporting event impact can't justify higher taxes

It no longer may be called the Independence Bowl, but Shreveport’s AdvoCare V100 Bowl keeps on defying expectations with its continued existence despite a host of disadvantages. And fortunately an attempt to allow local government-allied agencies dip into the citizenry’s pockets to keep it going was blocked.

State Rep. Henry Burns filed legislation for the upcoming session that would have boosted hotel occupancy taxes as much as 2.5 percent, in addition to the current 4.5 percent tax. HB 179 would have had the extra proceeds split between the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, the bowl, and to fund Bossier City facilities. Apparently in the proposed law, Shreveport, Bossier City, Caddo Parish, and Bossier Parish all would have had to agree to allow the additional levy in order to bring it up to the maximum new level.

The cash infusion would allow the bowl to increase its payout from its current $1.1 million in the hopes of attracting higher-quality competition. It currently is scheduled to pit the seventh-place team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, an East Coast-based, declining major conference in football that may not be able to fill that slot annually (because a team must have no worse than a record of no more losses than wins except under special circumstances) against the tenth-place team from the Southeastern Conference, which is much stronger in football but because of the low position slotted also may not be able to provide an eligible team on a regular basis.