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Thanksgiving Day, 2013

This column publishes usually 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 or New Year's 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.

With Thursday, Nov. 28 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Amnesty may not yet stave off LA budget cuts

While congratulations get passed around various state agencies regarding the 2013 version of the state’s tax amnesty program, celebrations could prove to be premature.

Usable in this current fiscal year was a predicted and therefore budgeted $200 million, devoted to the financing of health care and higher education. Louisiana’s Department of Revenue announced that after this amnesty period ended this past week that collections hit that mark, and could go a bit higher. But having this funding fulfill its part to make sure budgets get met is another matter, for two reasons.

One is that the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet in about two weeks to come up with the fiscal forecast that will be used to prepare the executive budget for next fiscal year and to provide a marker for budgetary performance this fiscal year. If the forecast is lower than had been anticipated when budgeted, this could cause cuts in state spending effective nearly immediately.


Bad poll news for Landrieu, good for Vitter continues

A poll about the fortunes of Louisiana U.S. Senate candidates next year and gubernatorial candidates the year after provided excellent news for Republicans in federal office and highlighted the continually deteriorating position of Democrats in the state.

Among other things, the recent survey by Southern Media and Opinion Research looked at answers for likely voters for the offices of senator and governor. For the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mary Landrieu, she led U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy 41-34 percent, with another Republican challenger recent state arrival Rob Maness at 10 percent.

Ever since Cassidy formally announced his candidacy and data like this from time to time would surface, this space has pointed out the problematic chances of Landrieu’s reelection even as other analysts continued to imagine strength in her bid not reflective of the actual data. Not so this data, which not only showed she would lose a general election runoff to Cassidy, but also contained information that of the representative sample less than half approved of her job performance, over half said someone new should be elected, a large majority of the undecided and those who would not reveal a choice would vote against a candidate who favored the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that she favors, and that as its members discovered more about Cassidy, who unlike Landrieu has much lower name recognition, his approval ratings improved. Perhaps these results finally should disabuse anybody of the notion that Landrieu is favored in any way in the contest. In fact, it’s now questionable that she isn’t a distinct underdog.


McAllister: more like Jefferson Smith or Barack Obama?

While, whether he realized it, Republican Rep. Vance McAllister echoed the fictional Jefferson Smith in words, his going to Washington, DC might have more in common with Democrat Pres. Barack Obama’s entry into the White House.

In 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes the Washington, the protagonist is a political rube, appointed to fill an expiring term of a senator precisely because he is thought to be malleable by sinister forces wishing to control him, who expresses that he’s never been to the nation’s capital. This leads to a humorous interlude where he disappears from his handlers to go on a tour of Washington with other, ordinary out-of-towners.

McAllister, who also came out of nowhere, differs in that he was elected last weekend in his own right, and based upon a carefully-crafted rather than a happenstance image as a political outsider. As part of that credentialing, he repeatedly mentioned that he’d never been to D.C., although is more politically aware than Smith was initially in the film. The question is, despite his protestations of not being a politician, perhaps he’s a little too politically aware for the good of the district’s majority – or the reverse.


State must appeal court attempt to rewrite Constitution

While both sides claimed victories of sorts in the initial ruling regarding Louisiana’s scholarship voucher program, the basis on which the state’s gain rests is too contingent on accepting a jurisprudence that rightfully needs challenging.

Last week, federal District Judge Ivan Lemelle opined that the state’s Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program had a right to exist, but at the same time the state should have to turn over information to the federal Department of Justice for review that could alter some results coming from the program’s application, so long as this did not bring the program to a halt. Both parties were given a couple of months to figure out how this would work.

The case came about when DOJ initially sued to stop the program, claiming that the outcomes of the program violated the desegregation orders across a number of school districts stemming from the Brumfield v. Dodd case. There, in the early 1970s the state was found to have been colluding with private schools to create a kind of segregation, and as a result it had to introduce requirements that would prevent private schools from acting in a discriminatory manner by race in admissions to them if they received any state aid, even indirectly.