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Edwards flubs, lies, wins first gov debate

Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards made a bad flub, lied through his teeth, but “won” the first widely televised debate of gubernatorial candidates against Republicans Rep. Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone.

Each invited candidate had different objectives. Edwards had to obfuscate and distract from his record, which not only indicts his term with the country’s worst state economy but also is part of an agenda that generally falls out of the Louisiana electorate’s mainstream. Abraham had to prevent Edwards from doing that while presenting a conservative counterpoint to that agenda. Rispone had to do the same yet, trailing both in the polls, distinguish himself from Abraham in a positive way to mitigate fallout that he criticizes over irrelevancies without any ideas of his own.

Edwards won because he accomplished his objective, at least partially, while the others failed. Assisting him, whether consciously, was the Nexstar news media representatives that served as moderators.


Campbell jilts little guy for crony capitalists

Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell would rather support crony capitalists than the little guy.

That much he proved last week when the Public Service Commission changed its rules regarding net metering. This refers to the legal requirement that utilities pay customers who generate their own power through solar energy for any excess above which the customer uses. After the end of this year, they will pay wholesale; previously, they paid retail.

Democrat Lambert Bossiere joined Campbell in opposing the change, while Republicans Mike Francis, Craig Greene, and Eric Skrmetta voted in the majority. Advocates noted that this roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour represented a subsidization paid by 99 percent of residential customers to the other one percent for no adequate reason. In particular, buyback participants put no money into overhead for building and maintaining transmission capacity, which otherwise justifies the difference between wholesale and retail.


Make case before asking for more taxation

Here’s an example of wrong-headed fiscal policy that tries to squeeze more out Louisiana taxpayers.

Next month, most registered voters in Bossier Parish face a ballot question whether essentially to double property taxes they pay to support the Cypress-Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District. A state political subdivision since 1958, local residents mainly know the area in the middle of the parish for its water recreation possibilities, park and recreational vehicle/camping areas, and its small zoo and Nature Center. Additionally, about 750 private properties abut the water, with that shoreline regulated by the district.

In 2014, voters approved with 57 percent of the vote a reauthorization of a 1.54 mill property tax in the 65 of 81 precincts attached to the district (that since has rolled forward to 1.56 mills). At the time, the district’s commission – comprised of appointees by local governments, one of which includes the executive director Robert Berry – faced monetary woes and pledged to cut back on some offerings while increasing user fees to get the district into the black.


Rispone not serious about better than Edwards

Now we have our answer about Louisiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone: it’s more than about doing better than Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

When businessman Rispone formally announced his candidacy almost a year ago, he explained that he entered the contest because “we can do better” than Edwards. A longtime and major contributor to conservative causes and candidates, Rispone entered the race first as other major GOP potential contestants dithered. Eventually, only Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham took the plunge.

Noted then, given the large amount of personal resources he could commit to the effort, was he effectively could expose Edwards as an old style, big government populist out of step with the Louisiana majority on a majority of issues. Edwards won in 2015 only because of fratricide among strong Republican candidates and, without a visible record, then could obscure this reality.


Edwards puts politics over neediest people

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards needing to escape some unfavorable public scrutiny catalyzed efforts to find help for over a thousand Louisiana families with children with disabilities.

Without fanfare, close to the end of the Louisiana Legislature’s 2019 regular session, Edwards signed HB 199 by Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton into law. Act 421 requires the state to follow the “TEFRA option,” first made available in 1982 that permits Medicaid assistance to families with a child with disability regardless of family income and assets. As long as the cost of care for the client at home comes out less than if institutionalized, the state must provide similar services as in institutions.

By way of example, Horton recently visited with a new program recipient as part of a media story. Until the law went into effect recently, that family paid $74,000 a year out of pocket for care, putting it under a severe financial strain. This highlights the perversity of existing Medicaid policy, where families with lower incomes receive these services for free, but those middle-class and above have to divest themselves of assets they earned, often by spending themselves into poverty because of bad fortune in order to qualify for Medicaid services.