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Mean-spirited Edwards flips off TOPS recipients

Even as he goes down to defeat, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards could not help but extend his hand up and parallel to him, with palm facing him, lowering his pinky, and telling a number of Louisiana families to read between the lines.

He reacted as such when learning that the Louisiana House of Representatives’ budget plan included a provision that if the Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars did not receive full funding that recipients would frontload tuition payments. The Republican leaders who backed the notion felt that a change in fiscal fortunes would produce more money than anticipated later in the fiscal year and if not then families would have more time to secure alternative funding. At present, TOPS appears to have only 70 percent funding.

However, neither of these rationales made a favorable impression on Edwards, who wanted to lard up at least another couple of hundred million dollars’ worth of tax increases on top of the $2.3 billion legislated over the past 13 months to close the gap. Keep in mind Edwards himself in his executive budget proposed cuts to TOPS, as a strategy to coerce the GOP majorities in the Legislature to hike taxes.


Suspect conclusion impoverishes voucher debate

A virtually parenthetical comment derived essentially from a footnote created a bit of turmoil at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, illustrating a larger debasement of the scope and purpose of public policy research that has wafted through policy discourse for the past half-century.

During a routine report adoption, Louisiana School Board Association Executive Director Scott Richard challenged a passage that noted the state’s Student Scholarships for Excellence Program, known colloquially as a voucher program that allows lower-income families with students at or who otherwise would attend low-performing schools to have the state pay for tuition at a qualifying public or private school up to a certain level, saved the state money. He pointed out a sentence in a February Legislative Fiscal Office report alleged that the state would save $8.3 million without the program.

BESE gubernatorial appointee Doris Voitier then asked for the report’s alteration to include the LFO snippet. It is no accident that Richard, whose clients generally loath the program because it both highlights their failures and removes resources from their control, and Voitier, a careerist of government monopoly schools whose appointer Gov. John Bel Edwards opposes vouchers and in this year’s budget tried to scale back funding of these, called for this. So the report forwarded to the Legislature will have both, treated as equal.


Edwards budget bullying not experiencing payoff

A couple of announcements last week confirmed what my Advocate colleague Stephanie Grace argued as the coming of the “permanent campaign” to Louisiana gubernatorial politics, one of these proffering a surprise that perhaps demonstrates how far its tentacles have reached and what it means going forward.

Grace notes that Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statement – just a bit over six months into a four-year term – that he would run for reelection signals a mindset that state politicians increasingly incorporate campaign optics into the governing strategies they employ and therefore the issue preferences advanced and the methods they used to do that. She speculated that the Republican-led Legislature, particularly the House, and GOP Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, a potential rival to Edwards’ reelection, in the methods they oppose and/or try to upstage Edwards in the pursuit of his agenda, join Edwards in this mode of governance.

However, less well-noticed at about the same time Edwards confirmed the obvious that Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser in a speech insisted he swore off running for governor, thus against Edwards, in 2019. In the first half of the year, Nungesser had coordinated with a leading Republican Party official in an odd, if not far-fetched, scheme to bring business to the state apparently without Edwards’ knowledge, despite that his job description has nothing to do with such efforts. Such a move could be seen as attempting to raise his profile for ascension to the state’s top spot.


LA Democrats oblivious to destructive policies

The toxic mixture of envy and cluelessness of Louisiana’s Democrats went on full display yesterday, captured by a single remark with the handiwork of their governing philosophy as the background noise.

In the wake of the failure of HB 38 by state Rep. Malinda White, which for the next two years only would have allowed deductibility of 57.5 percent of excess federal income tax deductions on state individual income taxes unless the combination of mortgage interest and charitable contributions exceeded that mark, state Rep. Gene Reynolds, head of the chamber’s Democrats, stupidly opined “They voted to protect the interests of the super-rich.” From such a statement, and if representative of the state’s Democrats, demonstrates they have no clue about the bill’s potential consequences or the bankruptcy of the ideology behind it.

Officials of the foremost backer of the bill, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, alleged that most of the 23 percent of returns that took the deduction concerned filers of $100,000 and over. The latest data (fiscal year 2014) indicate that about 25 percent took it, at an average of a little over $2,800.