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Chalk it up either to embarking on an impending campaign for state office or to set the stage to squeeze more money out of taxpayers, or both, but New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s assertion that Louisiana somehow shortchanges the city he runs is nothing short of ludicrous.
Landrieu made these remarks at a Bureau of Governmental Research supporters’ meeting, a group often critical of the spending choices and priorities of the city and the local governments associated with it. He spun a story of constituents querying him about why basic needs get delayed if any attention at all if the city makes so much money off numerous high-profile special events, with his answer being that it’s all a mirage. Using the 2013 Super Bowl as an example, he argued, “Even though the Super Bowl is a multimillion-dollar event, this city's general fund, your bank account, only netted $500,000, barely breaking even for the army of police, fire, EMS, sanitation, public works, permitting and other city employees who work day in and day out to make sure everything went off without a hitch.” He then funneled the topic to all of his glorious achievements even if the city doesn’t make much, and concluded with a diagnosis that the state holds the city back, opining that “Something needs to change. We need to cut loose. We need to get the state out of the way, realign powers so New Orleans has the resources that we need to stand on our own two feet.”
Which is an absurd comment, for no large city in Louisiana sucks at the teat of the state taxpayer as does New Orleans. Given the data available, it’s difficult to make a comprehensive comparison, but in taking the largest area of state expenditure, health care, Orleans Parish in Medicaid spending had the most (using the latest available fiscal year 2013 data) dollars showered upon it – almost a half-billion – of any parish and the most people in the program, even though its population was smaller than both Jefferson’s and East Baton Rouge’s. Further, it ranked tenth highest in the percentage of population receiving Medicaid, with only substantially smaller jurisdictions having higher proportions. And if you want to throw in the second-largest state expense, elementary and secondary education, keep in mind that the vast bulk of spending in New Orleans on this comes directly from the state, because most schools are in it are in the Recovery School District and all of those in that will be charter schools for the foreseeable future -- with a large portion of it accruing to the New Orleans economy, and the resulting conversion into city tax revenues.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:45
Wackiness by omission and commission continue to illuminate Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District contest, leaving the distinct possibility that the field remains entirely unsettled and the race unpredictable.
Within hours of each other – probably not entirely coincidentally – a rerun declared himself out of the contest and another semi-rerun inserted himself into it. Given his showing last year and the apparent ease at which he raised money. Had he chosen to try again state Sen. Neil Riser at the very least would have made a runoff and become the likely winner. His deferral leaves the field presently absent of any heavyweight, and wide open.
Eschewing a prize well within reach can lead to plenty of idle speculation as to why. Mentioning a non-specific opportunity in the future, it could be risking a losing run, or even a run in general, might devalue or make more difficult his ability to pursue that, possibly connected to another political elite wanting to enter to contest. Only time will tell upon Riser’s subsequent actions and who else gets in the race what his main motivation might be.
If the New Orleans Times-Picayune can, so far, on 13 occasions in 15 months stump for expanding Medicaid that would cost taxpayers more money for worse outcomes for anybody put into that program, then this space can continue to point out the stupidity of corporate welfare for the film/television industry.
That’s what comes across from the revelation that the hit television show (although the ratings are beginning to erode from all-time record highs for a nonfiction series in TV history) Duck Dynasty pockets an estimated cool $70,000 an episode from Louisiana taxpayers – and it now is in its sixth season. Having completed 61 episodes through season 5, by the end of this season (just kicked off with a special guest appearance by Gov. Bobby Jindal), taxpayers will be estimated to have plunked down over $5 million to subsidize the show.
Courtesy, of course, of the film and television tax credits that the state has given away now for a dozen years where the total amount forgone is approaching $1 billion. The Robertson clan that heads the Duck Commander franchise on which the show is based (and who dabble in politics) gets $200,000 an episode for its participation, but chances are that would include no taxpayer dollars without the subsidy because, hey, with their northeast Louisiana home base if you want to do a series about them, the producers and A&E network have to come to the state anyway to do it regardless of any subsidy.
While the state and national media go nuts over a non-story that fits its narrative, the Louisiana media ignore a real story that doesn’t. Business as usual, as explained below.
Last week, in front of a press gathering, Sen. David Vitter who is running for governor in 2015 mentioned he could be in favor of Medicaid expansion. Gov. Bobby Jindal has opposed unshakably this under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for good reason.
So does Vitter, as he has for a long time, but you wouldn’t have known it from the breathless coverage that went out in the state media, across wire services, and on national Internet political sites. Lost in all of the manufactured hubbub was Vitter invoked the same framework as has Jindal when it comes to the issue, which he would confirm in a subsequent media appearance shortly after, that there would have to be fundamental reform of the Medicaid program before committing any extra state money to the federal-state effort. Jindal specifically calls for loosening grant restrictions that allow for a premium support system that does not feature the same constrictions as seen, for example, in Arkansas’ attempt to expand Medicaid of last year.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 11:30
Never is the disingenuousness of the political left more on display when given something it declares it wants – except that only serves as cover for its true goal that it tries to sneak past the public and policy-makers, as the reaction by some to a bill waiting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision demonstrates.
SB 359 by state Sen. Jack Donahue started out its legislative life uncontroversially, as a means to tighten penalties in employers that fail to pay wages on time. However, late in the session a good portion of the text of HB 956 was read into it, unanimously. HB 956 would have expanded equal wage protections for women by state law where none existed, essentially by adopting language from the federal Equal Pay Act. As a result, it really only would have had symbolic value, in that the state already had to follow standards at least as protective as the federal law, although states may impose even greater controls in the name of pay equity.
HB 956 had started out its legislative life problematically, as it did not originally include an important passage from 29 U.S.C. 206(d). Lacking that phrasing meant the bill could have served as a vehicle for introducing the noxious notion of “comparable worth” into the state’s jurisprudence. This meant that unequal pay could be alleged on the idea the value of the work depended not upon its actual production and value of it by the marketplace, but upon abstract criteria that ignored these realities. Fortunately, that flaw was amended away.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 11:20