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Flawed LA Regents report needs serious adjusting

Well, it ended up as false advertisement, but with modifications the draft response of the Louisiana Board of Regents to a legislative study request can make the state’s higher education system significantly more effective and efficient.

Act 619 of 2016 set the state’s governance board for higher education on course to review comprehensively delivery of post-secondary education. When commencing this effort last fall, leaders said they would produce a document with “bold” recommendations.

Instead, the finished product unveiled this week comes off as mild as a church mouse, which undoubtedly will disappoint the bill’s author, Republican state Sen. Sharon Hewitt. Months ago, she asked for very specific items for the Legislature to tackle in the near future. She and other legislators widely expected the effort to include guidance on streamlining the governance system and establishing a lower number of senior institutions.


Loudmouth Landrieu needs to do his job on crime

It doesn’t have the flashiest name, nor can it contribute much to crime reduction. But as long as governance of New Orleans does not address seriously the causes and disincentives to committing crime in the city, the revamped and renamed Louisiana Bureau of Investigation under the jurisdiction of Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry will prove helpful in keeping down the Crescent City’s rampant lawlessness – despite its political leadership.

Landry recently has expanded activity of the unit, which has in the past served as an investigative unit for his office, by sending it into New Orleans. There, in a few months it has racked up relatively small numbers of arrests and prompted complaints from the powers that be in the city, principally Democrat Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his police chief Michael Harrison.

Harrison actually wrote a note to Landry alleging that the state’s top justice official did not have the authority to conduct policing activities in New Orleans because of its special act home rule charter. Let’s hope Harrison knows law enforcement better than he knows his state’s Constitution, for while Art. VI Sec. 5 gives such governments powers not inconsistent with law and the Constitution, in Art. VI Sec. 6 it places the only limitation on the state’s powers relevant to a charter, that no law affect powers under the charter or functions and organization of government related to that. Landry’s office or any state agency with law enforcement power has the unfettered right to operate in New Orleans as it wishes.


Legislature must trump Edwards on deficit agenda

Even if Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards uses his authority to force the Louisiana Legislature into special session, Republican legislative leaders still can force him to dance to their tune that emphasizes efficient government of appropriate size.

Next week the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet, potentially to change its forecast of fiscal year 2017 revenues. When it met late last year, mainly at the behest of House Speaker Taylor Barras, it did not alter the current forecast that already has come in around $300 million fewer than budgeted.

However, trends may not have reversed sufficiently so as not only to create a deficit on top of the one previously declared, but also a significant one. So large, in fact, that Edwards alleges nothing less than a special session can do to fix it, meaning broad tax and/or fee increases on the table. And while Edwards complained about the REC not declaring deficit conditions in December, which would have required a special session after 30 days if administrative actions still left a deficit, he did not issue a warning for executive branch agencies to clamp down on spending like he did earlier last year.


Flawed study misinforms on LA Obamcare impact

As midnight approaches for the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (“Obamacare”), its supporters summon any failed argument they can to try to stave off its inevitable demise. Thusly in Louisiana we hear a rehash of the widgets defense.

A report alleges that repeal of the wealth redistribution aspects of it and Medicaid expansion in Louisiana would cost $639.7 million loss in state and local taxes; $39.1 billion loss in business output and a $21.5 billion hit to the gross state product. Nationally, the presumed impact would mean a $2.6 billion loss in jobs in 2019 and a $1.5 trillion drop in gross state products between 2019 and 2023, according to the report.

But like all analyses supposedly touting the economics of Obamacare, it fails both in execution and conceptually. These always look only at the effect of adding money into the health care sector, not in the balancing of taking money out of the economy – with the latest Congressional Budget Office numbers forecasting at least $2 trillion removed by the federal government, some of which comes in direct taxation of individuals specifically to finance the scheme, plus over $600 billion more in fees and penalties over the 2016-25 period. That doesn’t even count the rapidly escalating cost of health insurance that shunts even more money from citizens who otherwise could have spent it on other economic sectors or have invested it – for 2017 an average annual increase of 25 percent for individual policies nationally and in Louisiana 17 percent.