As part of their plan to control government, State Rep. John Bel Edwards and state Democrats will try to convince the world that he received a mandate with his election to governor. Some already have bought into that. Don’t, because it was not.
When Gov. Bobby Jindal won reelection four years ago, from some came the opposite reaction, that despite his winning about two-thirds of the vote without even having to endure a runoff this did not constitute a mandate, which is large and widespread agreement with a candidate’s agenda that the electorate wishes to see enacted or continued. Analysis of the election’s data and comparison of it to the 2007 results demonstrated a mandate existed, not just because of Jindal’s historic win margin but also as, even as turnout declined as a result of the uncompetitiveness of the contest at the top of the ballot, other more competitive statewide contests saw even steeper drop-offs in turnout. Further analysis showed reduced turnout for the governor’s race was more a product of satisfaction of the preceding four years that of disinterest.
By contrast, the 2015 election runoff, with higher overall turnout than in 2011 (keep in mind that typically turnout increases by roughly a half of a percentage point from state office general elections to runoffs; in this case, by that margin), displayed indicators of lack of voter enthusiasm for the contest. Interestingly, despite the more competitive nature of this contest versus the 2007 general election in which Jindal won an absolute majority and defeated his nearest competitor by 37 points, 145,000 more people voted in that election than in this recent one.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 11:30
With the transmission of a curiously tone-deaf note to the university community, Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander gave notice that the University seemed ready to surrender its role as an instigator and propagator of critical inquiry, robust debate, and advancement of learning.
After the University of Missouri’s leadership committed professional hari-kari last month in the face of emotion-laden, mindless protests over administrative clumsiness in dealing with alleged racial incidents on its Columbia campus, Alexander felt compelled to send out a memo addressing the issue. He wrote, “Freedom of speech is an integral part of the collegiate experience, but no one is entitled to express their views in a way that diminishes others” because that means “members of our community do not feel safe and welcome at their own university.” Thus, “Oppressive behavior, whether symbolic, verbal, or physical, cannot and will not be tolerated at LSU.”
Unfortunately and problematically, Alexander did not elaborate on what he considers constitutes “oppressive behavior,” although he pledged campus-wide discussion on the matter. Nonetheless, while claiming “Freedom of expression is a sacred right,” he added “that right should be exercised hand-in-hand with a demonstration of our mutual respect for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.”
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:25
On the issue of Medicaid expansion, state Rep. John Bel Edwards will have the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is immediately when he takes over as governor in early January, confirming whether he meant what he said during the campaign that he wishes to work together with his political opponents for the good of the state, or if he demonstrates that his habit of dissembling continues.
The Democrat with a Republican legislature near supermajority status in the wake of a report from the Legislative Fiscal Office must deal with a monkey wrench laying waste to plans to push an indirect tax onto health care insurance ratepayers, consumers, and taxpayers. He as well as most of the Legislature intended for last session’s HCR 75 to fund the state’s portion of the expansion by charging most hospitals a fee related to their revenues. In turn, they would pass these higher costs along, causing insurers to raise their rates, taxpayers to pay more for state employee health benefits and for the 2.25 percent tax on health insurance plans for new policies under the state’s managed capitation Bayou Health program that serves Medicaid enrollees, and consumers to have out-of-pocket expenses increase for health care.
But when the LFO picked over the particulars of the resolution, it concluded that the state would receive little if any “savings” – the difference between state costs associated with accepting the federal dollars and the funding responsibilities that go along with it – forecast for the first four or five years (depending on the scenario). This happens because the resolution’s wording in essence does not allow for the swapping out of Disproportionate Share Hospital dollars – federal grant money the state matches for uncompensated care of the indigent uninsured – to go to other Medicaid programmatic uses, and the constitutional amendment that set all of this up creates a funding mechanism starting at a base rate that cannot go lower without cutting of other Medicaid programmatic elements similarly and two-thirds of the Legislature or its Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget overriding, when the Revenue Estimating Conference makes a deficit declaration.
While Louisiana Republicans can blame the state’s peculiar political culture, their elected officials deserve opprobrium as well for allowing a real possibility that, despite a clear majority in the House of Representatives, this chamber may elect a leadership controlled by Democrats.
Last week, jockeying for the speakership of the House commenced, with Democrat state Rep. Walt Leger proclaiming himself in the lead. Alleging that he has at this time enough votes to secure the post, this means that since Republicans hold 61 seats in the 105-member body, assuming that the two independents voted his way he would need nine GOP defectors to forsake their party’s choice for speaker. In part this might be due to the influence of Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the incoming governor, following the informal norm that allows that official some discretion over determining chamber leadership.
It doesn’t appear that House Republicans have settled on a candidate at this time, but a meeting of the caucus produced a document of 51 signatures pledging a vote for a Republican, implying that as many as 10 possibly could defect, making Leger’s possibility of claiming the top chamber spot a potential reality. In all likelihood, these ten include those who have given public support in one form or fashion to Edwards during and after the campaign – state Reps. Bryan Adams, Chris Broadwater, Thomas Carmody, Kenny Havard, Joe Lopinto, and Rob Shadoin – and maybe others who often have bucked the party leadership on certain issues aligning with Edwards, such as state Rep. Rogers Pope, hardly distinguishable from Edwards on education issues.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:50