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Senate aids Jindal in producing tolerable budget

It looks as if the SAVE plan will save Louisiana’s stressed fiscal year 2016 budget, thanks to the typical force alignment process seen in the state’s budgetary politics.

At present, the House of Representatives remains balky on SB 284 by state Sen. Jack Donahue, which would create a complex mechanism that allows higher education institutions to charge a fee, presumed to be $1,500 annually, per student; allows that to exist as a tax credit accessible for the families involved regardless of whether they have that much tax liability; and draws from the created SAVE Fund that gets filled from tax increases in other areas such as on cigarettes, meaning the families never pay the bill nor receive the credit rebate while the funds flow directly to higher education. The law promulgates such gyrations because Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared that any bills that increase taxes without offsets elsewhere and any budget with a net tax increase he will veto.

Without the Student Assessment for a Valuable Education plan made into law, a budget with a net tax hike that no accounting gimmickry can hide (taxes definitely are going up) seems inevitable, bringing the state as previously mentioned to the brink of a clash between an irresistible force and an unmovable object, with resolution attained only when one side politically can overpower the other. While that conflict would play out, after the Jul. 1 start of the new fiscal year fiscal chaos will reign.


EITC bill support illustrates LA's troubled fiscal policy

The debate that surrounded the Louisiana House’s wise rejection of inflating the Earned Income Tax Credit was less a policy discussion and more an expository about the attitudes that produced the budget difficulties of this year that promise to recur.

Representatives narrowly defeated state Rep. Walt Leger’s HB 70, denying it by five votes, which would double the credit to seven percent of the federal version. About half the states have this, with Louisiana’s the lowest and the only southern state on the list. The federal program is particularly generous for families with children: while the 2015 levels mean that a single person working minimum wage full time gets almost nothing from it, a single mother raising three children making three times minimum wage still would qualify for a higher rebate.

And rebate it is, for even making that amount of money, the latter household (assuming the mother’s wage is the only cash income, although this family also likely would qualify for some other assistance programs as well), the size of the credit not only would wipe out all income tax liability but also give back over $2,000 more than that (and this does not include other tax credits that this family would qualify for, such as child care). This is why the current Louisiana credit costs $47 million annually and the federal one yearly now over $60 billion – more than what is spent on the higher-profile, more-criticized Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash benefits program, making it the most expensive cash benefit program in the nation.


Trivial and extreme define LA Democrats' agenda

It rather shows the depths that Louisiana’s Democrats currently plumb when their talking points consist of over-the-top complaints about Republican gubernatorial news releases and asking GOP legislators whether these opponents consider them murderers.

In the latter instance, discretion was the better part of valor when last week state Rep. Lenar Whitney demurred giving any provocative answer when, from the Senate’s Judiciary B Committee, state Sen. Karen Peterson, also state Democrats’ party chairwoman, asked her “Do I look like a murderer?” This was in response to Whitney’s assertion that to vote against her HB 701, which would prevent sex-selective abortions, meant one was “willing to kill baby girls.” It presaged Peterson’s vote against the bill that helped deadlock a vote that sidelined it.

If Whitney had been willing to speak truth to power, she could have said in response something like “If the shoe fits ….” Because, yes, if you participate in the abortion a human being as a result of it being a certain sex, you are a murderer. In fact, with the exception of when the birth of the human being would cause its mother to die so only one can be saved, any other rationale for abortion is murder, plain and simple. It may not be recognized legally as murder, depending upon the circumstances, but in the universals of human existence it is, and no amount of sublimation, deflection, projection, rationalization, or any other kind of psychological defense to avoid that truth changes this fact. It may discomfit and agitate and lead to concocting all sorts of sophistic mental gymnastics to avoid facing this truth, and it may be impolite and foment resentment against those remind of it, but it simply is.


Fee hike now suddenly not anathema to lawmakers

It’s funny what a difference of a few years and a billion or so dollars makes when it comes to legislator attitudes about fee increases related to vehicle operation.

Currently, two bills, HB 445 and HB 833, after being approved in the House had different Senate committees tack on the same major revenue increase based upon fees – a $50 hike for gaining a certificate of title and the same for a salvage title, which represent raises of 270 and 333 percent, respectively. Together, the fee changes are predicted to generate at least $59.8 million a year. Similarly, rumor has it HB 37 will experience the same treatment in the Senate where it could tack on $39.50 to the existing $32.25 Class E (individual) charge (and parishes may be permitted to charge as much as $3 extra), or at least 122 percent, which would add an estimated $18.8 million more.

The title fee hikes might reflect current, fluctuating budget necessities where state police have received around $60 million a year from the Transportation Trust Fund, a sore spot among some legislators as that money otherwise could go to infrastructure needs. Legislation to increase taxes going to roads has stalled, and jacking up these fees may represent a fallback position to retain money in the TTF while not dramatically decreasing funding to state police.


Group advocates for law to silence its opponents

Sun Tzu in The Art of War advises that the successful general ensures asymmetrically favorable resources accrue to him before he initiates battle. That’s what a leftist interest group attempts when it calls for selective restriction of free speech rights concerning Louisiana’s Public Service Commission.

Recently, the Alliance for Affordable Energy from New Orleans published reservations about the ability of members of the PSC to collect campaign funds from regulated entities. The group is best known for its strident agenda against large energy concerns that use oil, gas, or nuclear energy to generate electricity and its shilling for alternative energy concerns, cost-shifting for retail energy pricing, and that one of its former employees ran, unsuccessfully, twice in different districts for a seat on the PSC.

Its literature called the ability of regulated entities to donate “troubling” and pointed out that some states prohibited the practice of allowing this. While generally states may place limitations on amounts of campaign donations directly to candidates, unless there is a system of public financing in place that prohibits all donations, only regulated entities may have their ability to donate to campaigns denied while other interests do not face such a ban.