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Legislative leaders too comfortable with road tax hike

If it already isn’t, for conservatives it should be pretty close to last straw time for Republican state Rep. Kenny Havard, with perhaps some disgust left over for Louisiana’s GOP legislative leadership on the issue of transportation policy.

Although he burst into the consciousness of many with his ill-timed sense of stripper-based humor during the past session of the Legislature, Havard during his career on numerous occasions championed big government inimical to conservatism: sponsoring legislation that essentially would halt privatization efforts, supporting Medicaid expansion, and voting to keep letting unions use taxpayers as their bill collectors.

Still, he managed to wangle a prestigious committee chairmanship, Transportation, Highways, and Public Works, by playing both sides of the street. He publicly endorsed Democrat liberal then-colleague, now-Gov. John Bel Edwards last year to take the state’s top job, but cannily refused to back Edwards’ choice for House Speaker Democrat state Rep. Walt Leger in favor of staying loyal to his party that led to the installment of Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras.


Campbell's strange debate strategy unlikely to pay off

There’s no mystery as to why Republican frontrunner for Louisiana’s Senate seat Treasurer John Kennedy may not enthusiastically wish to participate in a debate with his Democrat runoff counterpart Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. More curious is why Campbell seems not to want the joint appearance to come off as well.

With polling giving Kennedy a commanding lead in the Dec. 10 runoff election, he can fall back on the tried and true tactic of running out the clock. When in the situation that dynamics favor you and the only way to lose is to make some tremendous mistake, you limit your chances to make these, while not looking like you completely want to ignore campaign events.

By contrast, someone as deeply down as Campbell would want to emulate Democrat former Sen. Mary Landrieu, who as soon as she found out she fell well short of winning without a runoff against Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy in 2014, even though she led him narrowly in the general election she immediately asked for an absurd six debates in the month prior to the runoff. Cassidy laughed that off and they had one a few days prior to the final election where he blew her out.


Disgust at Shreveport garbage fee should go further

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler will have to reassess old spending priorities to shore up a leaky 2017 city budget buffeted by property tax and garbage fee subtractions.

During quadrennial periods coinciding with presidential election years, Louisiana assessors perform a mandatory reassessment on all property in their parishes, reflected in that year’s billing. In Caddo, as with some other parishes in the wake of flooding during the year and a general economic slowdown in the oil patch, its assessor Charles Henington reduced marginally property values parishwide.

In typical years where assessments rise – either because of the reassessment or because property sales occur at values higher than the property’s previously-assessed values – governing authorities on their own may roll forward millages in order to capture more tax revenue. Even if they do nothing, rates automatically roll back to produce a constant stream of dollars. But in a situation where property tax proceeds actually will go down because of changed assessments, they cannot do anything unilaterally to prevent that.


Back to the future appointment reminds of regression

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards made the old new with a recent appointment, continuing to demonstrate the retrogression his administration brings to Louisiana.

In agencies part of the Division of Administration, leaders serve at the pleasure of the governor, so with Edwards’ assuming the job at the beginning of the year, one by one heads selected by Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal, unless told not to by the incoming regime, stepped aside. For his pick to helm the Office of Group Benefits, which oversees employment benefits of state employees save for retirement matters, he chose former OGB Chief Executive Officer Tommy Teague.

Previously appointed by Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Jindal assented to him continuing in the job until he began to buck the Jindal Administration on streamlining the agency and reining in excess balances held back from ratepayers. Officials wanted to privatize most functions as had almost every state and to institute a more realistic reserve level; at around half a billion dollars, this was at least twice as high as industry norms, a trend Teague had tried to feed by asking for rate increases annually that DOA usually pared down considerably.