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Higher education fires first in feeding frenzy

Now that it’s been fattened with excess taxpayer largesse, the first stab at Louisiana’s fatted calf has occurred, from the state’s higher education institutions following a flawed master plan.

At its meeting last week, the Louisiana Board of Regents for Higher Education expressed its desire to grab over two fiscal years for itself more than $300 million of a projected $534.8 million surplus. It wants $155.6 million to increase operational spending, or about a 15 percent increase in discretionary funding over this year’s fiscal year 2020 budget for FY 2021. Additionally, it petitioned for $150 million in capital outlay spending from the nearly $350 million potentially available for that purpose from the FY 2019 surplus, to address a wish list of $1.5 billion.

Specifically, the Board wants $36.3 million to raise faculty salaries to the southern regional average, $34 million for GO Grants to increase need-based student aid which more than doubles that, $9 million to fund fully Taylor Opportunity Program for Students merit aid, $28.7 million to reward schools for improving student outcomes, and $18.3 million to cover mandated expenses such as rising health insurance and retirement costs. This would add on to the $47 million taxpayer boost from this fiscal year.


LA should see San Francisco's bet, raise it

Louisiana should see San Francisco’s bet and raise it.

Last week, the California city’s government passed a measure that would ban travel to or business with companies in states that have too “restrictive abortion laws.” The 22 states chosen for the policy that begins next year include Louisiana.

San Francisco, now home to just four Fortune 500 companies after two fled in the past two years to another state on the list, Texas, admits yanking its business will have at best a marginal impact on business in those states. Still, it hopes its boycott will encourage other jurisdictions to pile on and maybe move the needle.


Surplus solution: end corporate income taxation

The numbers are in: over the past three years, Louisianans have been overtaxed almost $1 billion. It’s time to change this intolerable abuse of the people’s money.

Last week, the Revenue Estimating Conference put the official fiscal year 2019 surplus at $535 million, joining surpluses over the previous two years that make these the highest in state history over such a time span. Even though the 2018 renewal of 2016 sales tax increases backed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards took in almost as much, economists attributed the gigantic overbite primarily to federal income tax law changes. Keep in mind the surplus came even as Edwards has ratcheted up spending of state tax revenues on operating costs faster than the rate of inflation during his time in office.

Of course, big spenders like Edwards, his Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, and certain legislators have come up with dishonest rationalizations not to implement tax relief despite the record results:


Maness finds yet another way to draw publicity

Is there a bigger attention whore in Louisiana politics than ex-Senate candidate, ex-state House candidate, and now ex-parish party leader Rob Maness?

Maness managed to insert himself into the news cycle last week when he criticized a statement by political activist Lane Grigsby concerning the state Senate District 16 contest. At the time prior to a recount, vote totals of two Republicans tied, trailing a Democrat. State law in this instance would have had all three on the ballot for the general election runoff, which likely would have handed the Democrat the victory.

However, the recount put GOP state Rep. Franklin Foil ahead by four votes. Grigsby, who has a long history of financial assistance to preferred candidates typically conservative (but not always; during Democrat Gov. John  Bel Edwards’ 2015 campaign he donated to him) had said he would back Foil in a future campaign if he had remained tied in votes and would withdraw from the SD 16 race prior to the runoff.