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LA taxpayers stiffed by questionable call

You know a governor is up for reelection when he grooves many state employees a day off with pay for nothing.

Yesterday, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ right-hand man, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, declared all of state government would close today because of weather considerations. This comes on top of the legal Good Friday paid holiday.

Bad weather is no joke, and the tornado threat issued last night for 16 southeastern Louisiana parishes today certain merits caution. But the state does have 48 other parishes that at most might or did get a lot of rain (here in northwest Louisiana, some energetic precipitation last night softened to a drizzle by sunrise, going on and off since), which have faced much more severe weather before that didn’t draw paid furlough under Edwards or any other governor.


Advocate undercuts paper of record status

The decision by the Baton Rouge Advocate to go behind a paywall will cause a significant shift in how state political news and opinion become consumed in Louisiana – in ways perhaps The Advocate didn’t expect or want.

Earlier this week, the newspaper’s top brass announced the new model. In some ways, it was late to the party, as a large majority of papers in the country have turned to this practice. In fact, it became the second-to-last mid-major to major paper in the Louisiana to do so, with just the New Orleans Times-Picayune the last standing with entirely free content (and, perhaps not coincidentally, that paper that has done the most to embrace a move online while deemphasizing its print version).

Academic research has studied the consequences of such a transition. Typically, newspapers have headed in this direction as a last resort to stem revenue losses. Keep in mind print advertising revenues have dropped by about two-thirds in just a dozen years, leading newsrooms to cut their employee numbers by almost half in that span.


Casino strategy unrealistic, going nowhere

You can lead a Louisiana riverboat casino to water, but you just can’t make it locate near or in it.

An extensive study prepared for the Louisiana Department of Economic Development tries to point boats in certain directions. It reviewed all forms of gaming in the state (not “gambling;” recall that the state Constitution says the Legislature is to suppress that) and concluded that, as the casino market dominated state gaming, only changes here could substantially stop the slide in gaming revenues from existing sources since 2008 (it predicts a bump up from adding sports betting this coming year).

It outlined a strategy, with one part right on the pulse of policy-making. That recommendation tracks efforts to loosen restrictions on the land-based casino in New Orleans, principally in allowing it to add a second hotel to its operations. Local officials and lawmakers seem ready to sign off on that this year after encountering problems last year.


Streamlining LA higher education needed

Legislators shouldn’t criticize hiking fees, or tuition, at Louisiana’s higher education institutions. These were needed, while streamlining the state’s overbuilt system must follow.

Last week, during budget presentations, some representatives expressed disapproval with Louisiana State University Baton Rouge’s decision to raise fees for this academic year. This came after lawmakers had constructed a standstill budget for this and the previous fiscal year, rather than inducing cuts as they had for the several years prior.

System Pres. F. King Alexander called the higher fees necessary in order to absorb hidden, mandated cost increases and to hand out pay raises. He said almost every state spent more per student, and every school did in the southern region. Further, the typical LSU faculty member makes over $10,000 fewer annually than the regional peer average.


Glover ups ante in insults to LSU

Democrat state Rep. Cedric Glover continues his war on the Louisiana State University System.

Glover, who didn’t graduate from college, filed HB 470 for the regular session of the Louisiana Legislature that would detach my employer Louisiana State University Shreveport from the System and merge it into the University of Louisiana System’s Louisiana Tech University. It’s a bad idea on a number of levels, although Glover claims it would bring more “comprehensive” higher education to the Caddo/Bossier metropolitan area. Notably, as Shreveport mayor from 2006-14, Glover did next to nothing to promote or assist LSUS.

That bill will go nowhere (especially as it requires a supermajority to pass). No other legislator has desired to co-author it, significantly including neither LSUS’ representative Thomas Carmody or its senator Barrow Peacock, both Republicans who seem quite cool to the idea. No groundswell among policy-makers, or even from Tech, clamors for its support.