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Edwards deflects, distracts, deludes in media remarks

Recent remarks by the leader of Louisiana’s legislative Democrats, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, not only confirms he acts as one of the biggest gasbags in state politics, but also in the process tried to sell a bill of goods no informed and thinking person would buy.

Edwards snared an invitation to speak to the media, no doubt as a tactic to make his campaign for governor anything else but moribund, and proceeded to unload a slurry of drivel. He claimed the current budgeting practices of Gov. Bobby Jindal were designed to forestall a day of reckoning which the next governor would have to address, mainly because of around $1 billion in funds that he alleged would not reappear next year. He said he would address this by jettisoning what he called outdated or ineffective tax breaks and by expanding Medicaid. He railed against “privatization.” He termed himself a candidate of the middle, saying that’s where governance needs to be.

All of which demonstrates that after over six years in office, Edwards doesn’t seem to know much about how Louisiana’s fiscal system works, covers that ignorance with large doses of disingenuousness, and thinks he can fool a lot of people a lot of the time. The “one-time money” claim illustrates all three tendencies. The amount to which he refers is money used that does not come directly from the general fund or directly from dedicated funds to dedicated purposes, yet he made it sound like it dropped from the sky in order to fund continuing operations.


Good policy for Cassidy to reject continuing Ex-Im Bank

If Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy wishes to confirm his conservative credentials in his contest to knock off Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu, he should vote to end welfare to big businesses and discrimination against private banks, and not become what fellow Republican Rep. Charles Boustany has on the issue of reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Regarding the government concern, Congress must decide soon on whether to allow the Bank a charter to continue, for which Landrieu is all for. It provides loans, loan guarantees and insurance policies for U.S. companies that export products abroad, as well as financing help for some of their foreign customers. Cassidy has said he has not decided what to do when the matter comes up, although he did vote for the previous authorization.

Such doubt doesn’t exist in the mind of Boustany, who penned a full-throated defense of its operations for an establishmentarian website. In it, he claimed that the bank proved helpful to small business and that it could not compete against private lenders and therefore not only would not take business from them but also was the only source for some businesses given foreign regulatory environments, and that it turned a healthy $1 billion profit. Landrieu joined him in a news conference to reiterate that and trotted out a local business owner to sing the Bank’s praises, underscoring that well over a hundred Louisiana businesses got such loans.


Lower LA student debt levels means tuition underpriced

The fact that student loan debt might impose a greater burden than in the past on borrowers in Louisiana is a function of the choices made by them rather than in erroneous public policy.

Statistics show that nearly half of the class of 2012 in Louisiana graduated owing something. The average debt load was about $22,789. Further, an estimated one in 10 Louisiana graduates defaulted on federal student loan payments within two years of entering the repayment period.

But it’s illogical to assert that tuition rates at Louisiana colleges contributed much to this. After all, with the fourth lowest average tuition and fees rate in the country, in-state students here had a bargain compared to their peers in most states. Add to this that about a fifth of all college students in the state benefitted from a free ride on tuition, or more, from the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students that pays for tuition at state schools and in some cases even more, and it’s clear that taxpayers were putting up more than they should have to supplement a tertiary education to individuals who may not even stay in state once they graduated.


Mill bust exposes those responsible, wages of liberalism

The final tally from a recent notorious exercise of liberal populism has come in, and it took from every Louisianan almost $17 apiece for nothing.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor looked at the pieces left from building a state-run sugar mill in Lacassine, the idiocy of which this space time and time again exposed. Now finally almost off the state’s ledger, in a report issued last week, the office determined it cost taxpayers a net $71 million (and this was described as the loss at a minimum). Its only revenues came from about a month’s operation, minimal lease payments, and scrap and salvage value.

That’s only the direct cost. Because the bond money for it was floated through the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority, it deprived the use of that money for its purpose originally intended, suppressing boll weevil activity. This forced the state some years ago to spend extra money it never should have had those funds not gone to the mill’s construction and instead could have been used to prevent flaring of weevil infestations. And since it used state workers in construction, most for tasks not even close to their job descriptions or competencies, an untold amount of productivity in pursuing state activities also was lost.


Jindal's white whale pursuit threatens to make him Ahab

The kabuki generated between Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education with its superintendent of education picked by it John White continues with a string of announcements and an actual meeting between Jindal and White, but the advantage in the conflict held by BESE remains the same to the detriment of Jindal’s political effectiveness.

Last week, BESE made another apparent concession, after having said previously it would use state-derived questions for testing purposes, to Jindal in that it would restart the test procurement process. Jindal has ordered heightened scrutiny over that process, almost the only conceivable way in which a governor can influence even the implementation of education policy in the state as that policy-making is vested in the hands of BESE, because he claims using a national test by definition imposes national content on the state, even if it is not content but common standards being adopted by Louisiana and most states that the test would evaluate the degree of their achievement.

But just as the previous request really meant nothing granted, in that only the subject areas not covered by national testing would use Louisiana questions and BESE indicated national tests still would be used in English and mathematics, so also did this latest offer also give nothing up to Jindal’s insistence that the national exam developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers not be used for this purpose. BESE officers and White proclaimed that they voluntarily would start over, if allowed to immediately and wrap it up in three months, the procurement process again – knowing that because PARCC had discussed giving the exam to the state for its first year for free that it could come in with a bid of zero and automatically win. Even if that didn’t happen, the officers – whose offer antagonized the only three apparent (of 11 total members) BESE opponents of the Common Core State Standards to which PARCC is tied – said the winning bid had to be for a test allowing for comparisons across states.