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Politically best for Jindal to declare CCSS win, desist

Would it be so bad if Gov. Bobby Jindal on his quixotic quest to eliminate Louisiana’s participation in the Common Core State Standards would just simply declare victory?

He specifically, but including as fellow travelers a few legislators, a couple of members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and many union officials, suffered a defeat at the hands of 19th District Court Judge Todd Hernandez when the jurist agreed with plaintiffs enjoining enforcement of Republican Jindal’s two recent executive orders that had the practical effect of greatly interfering with administration of tests in a few months aligned with the Common Core State Standards. They argued that these orders could not apply because there was no evidence of wrongdoing in contracting for the exams and thus over this aspect of educational policy otherwise Jindal’s Division of Administration had no authority. Hernandez wrote that any trial following the injunction would be likely to go the plaintiffs’ way.

Superintendent of Education John White said that, with certainty seemingly assured over testing now, the harm of lack of ability to know for which kind of assessment to prepare, the results of which have many consequences such as in teacher evaluations and school accountability, was negated and use of these tests would be scheduled. The governor’s office vowed to appeal, bitterly complaining that the court took the plaintiffs’ argument “hook, line and sinker.”


Judicial overreach to cause fall LA electoral chaos

While it might seem like the safe thing to do, it was the wrong thing to refuse to enforce a recently-passed Louisiana law that might throw some fall elections into chaos.

Yesterday, 19th District Judge Tim Kelley placed an injunction on the new law that prohibited anyone who would be older than 70 years of age at beginning a term of office in early 2015 from serving as a justice of the peace or constable. The former rule on minor matters and may perform minor civil duties such as weddings, while the latter are officers of that court and, if certified, may carry firearms in the performance of their duties. Previously, the law had exempted anybody from this age requirement, first imposed eight years ago, if they had been in that office prior to Aug. 15, 2006.

Some controversy ensued after the law passed only one vote short of unanimity earlier this year where the professional association, seemingly unconcerned about it during the session, opposed it afterwards, while the author state Sen. Elbert Guillory claimed a shadowy figure alleged to be part of the group asked for it and he complied. The group filed suit, and Guillory submitted a sworn affidavit essentially saying he thought the group had asked for it and, in face of opposition, planned to seek repeal of it.


CD 5 nightmare scenario for LA GOP still possible

Qualifying begins this week for the Fifth Congressional District contest where Democrats hope the stars align to give them an improbable victory, the incumbent running on the fumes of his office wishes to hang on, and whether Republicans can find an answer to prevent the cataclysm of a Democrat win or the nuisance of the incumbent’s reelection.

That guy, Rep. Vance McAlllister, leads in the only independent poll (if its producer is skeptical of McAllister) to date taken on the contest, but with an incredibly underwhelming 27 percent. Not far behind him at 21 percent comes Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, who ran in the special election against McAllister last time but whom McAllister aced out of the runoff as Mayo performed in underwhelming fashion, getting just 15 percent of the vote in a district where black Democrats (Mayo is black) comprise 26 percent of the electorate (another black candidate then got 3 percent of the vote).

However, they are going in opposite directions. Given that Mayo looks to be not only the only prominent black candidate in the contest but also the sole prominent Democrat, the smattering of non-black liberals in the district could boost his total in the general election above 30 percent. He’ll be almost a sure thing for the general election runoff.


Amendment passages to sow budget chaos, tax hikes

Ever since the hurricane disaster false economic boom has faded from Louisiana, every year dire-sounding stories about the next fiscal year’s budget have circulated, only to have months later a budget produced with the minimum of inconvenience to the state that preserves needed services and levels. And, once again, an alarm has been raised for fiscal year 2016. But this time the outcome could be different – with that and future outcomes directly in the hands of the people.

In past years, comprised of large parts of bookkeeping maneuvers and small parts of gimmickry, any forecast deficit, figured on the basis of subtracting expected expenditures plus an inflation factor from predictable, recurring revenues matched directly to those expenditures, got closed down courtesy of excess revenues culled from dedications and bonus events. The gap needing spanning for FY 2016 is predicted at $1.2 billion. What makes this one more serious is that increasingly bonus funds have gone into filling in the gap that are almost certain not to repeat and it is as cumbersome as ever to steer excess funds away from their assigned uses – a problem voters could exacerbate this fall with encouragement from the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration and legislators.

During its presentation to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, the Division of Administration indicated how it planned to address the gap, and also issued a statement regarding that. These covered only about half the gap, incorporating an efficiency study contracted out by the state that included $216 million, results of the final year of the state’s three-year tax amnesty program of $145 million, and $240 million from a vaguely described “donation” by nursing homes said to be authorized by recent legislation.