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Planetary partisan divide continues on LA budget

It bears repeating, in a little different way: the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration and Democrat legislators are from Mars, Republican legislators are from Venus.

That became painfully obvious in yesterday’s special session meeting of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee in questioning and testimony by members of Edwards Administration officials. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne stumped for Edwards’ plan to use nearly $120 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund. He conceived this as a bridge to further fiscal reform that Legislature intends to investigate during its regular session in two months.

Dardenne bases this strategy on the recommendations forwarded by the Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy, which looks at how Louisiana collects revenues. To him, “structural deficit” describes the inability to gather as much revenue as necessary to fund what Edwards wants to spend.


State must expand school choice in Caddo

It’s time for Louisiana’s Department of Education to intervene more forcefully with struggling Caddo Parish schools.

After some period of treading water, CPSD as a whole took a step backwards last year as it slid solidly into ‘C’ territory (in absolute terms; for years "grading" of schools has occurred on a curve) according to the state’s district accountability measure. What comfort came from its overall performance as not absolutely dismal hides the fact that a majority of its schools rank as ‘D’ or ‘F’ and these enroll over half of all district students.

Yet despite a history of having a significant portion of its school performing below par, unlike the other two major metropolitan districts in the state little educational choice developed in the parish. The state oversees only one charter school there, Linwood, and only three charters operate independently (one with two campuses). Several other schools operate under a memorandum of understanding model that leaves the district in charge of these but having to meet certain objectives negotiated by the state.


Edwards, GOP legislators live on different planets

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards is from Mars, legislative Republicans are from Venus. I chose the ordering since Edwards once served as a professional warrior and some GOP legislators are women. I chose the metaphor to illustrate the completely incompatible mindset of the two that threatens to launch fireworks during the state’s whirlwind special session.

Edwards pulled the starting gun trigger on it last night by speaking mainly to the virtues of using Budget Stabilization Fund Money. As policy-makers grapple with a $304 million deficit fighting a ticking clock registering just four-and-a-half months remaining in the fiscal year, use of the Fund has emerged as the biggest point of contention between the governor and Republican-led Legislature to solve for the shortfall.

In the speech, Edwards noted the short time frame and his belief that a straitjacketed fiscal structure begging for reform presented few options other than use of $119.6 million in Fund money. Citing its creation as a means to address short-term budgetary crunches and past use in what he saw as less critical times, failure to dip into it he alleged would force undesirable cuts into areas his current plan using Fund money to close the gap would avoid. He argued that, past this hurdle, soon the state could start attending to fiscal reform that should alleviate such problems in the future.


Shoddy opinion writing fuels T-P liberal bias

A day after my last post came out, which analyzed a column written by Mark Lorando that discussed and denied the presence of liberal bias at the newspaper he edits, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, he followed up with another on the topic that in some ways addressed points I had made. Yet accompanying his that day was a piece that served to subvert his mission.

My post pointed out the ways that the T-P transmitted liberal bias, largely in story selection, while Lorando defended against that mainly along the lines that content remained neutral, at least on the news pages. I demonstrated that’s not necessarily the case, more because of the liberal smog enveloping the industry of journalism than in any intent. He also pledged for greater balance in the opinion pages, where one may expect biased commentary.

But the one thing that he did not, and could not, promise in trying to divest the T-P of liberal bias that he at least conceded was perceived was to provide more informed commentary. Liberalism often festers and grows because its adherents tend to be less informed about politics (which carries over into partisan differences as well with the typical Republican more informed and open-minded than his Democrat counterpart). Liberals also more likely mythologize and caricature conservatism than vice versa, a logical consequence as liberalism relies more on emotive referents to sustain belief in it while conservativism places greater emphasis on fact and logic.