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Edwards wastes with politicized census panel

While Louisiana’s state government should strive for as accurate a census count as possible, state taxpayers shouldn’t have their money wasted on a matter infused with partisanship that is best left to local governments.

This week, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order creating a complete census count committee. These, urged by the federal government, strive to engage in activities that maximize citizen participation in the census for 2020, and almost every state plus many local governments have established these.

Census data serve many purposes, although three have implications far beyond the rest. These determine the number of House of Representatives seats for each state, create the baselines through which state and local government reapportionment take place, and underpin the distribution of $675 billion in federal grants.


On budgeting, LA GOP lawmakers face choice

On the budget, Louisiana’s Republican legislative majority will have to choose.

The strong majorities in each legislative chamber know that Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards will spend everything he can to keep inflated state government a reality. The outgoing Legislature gave him the chance by foolishly extending a temporary sales tax increase seven years. Occurring simultaneously with federal tax law changes that boosted state income tax receipts, the state likely for the next few years will take too much money from the people.

But for use the excess collection, constitutionally, must garner recognition from the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference. Here, as Republicans demonstrated earlier this month, the veto power each legislative chamber has can prevent this, in effect forcing the spending of fewer dollars. In essence, if not recognized officially even if in fact collected, the money would just pile up.


Potential insular LSU choices risky or worse

For its upcoming presidential search, the Louisiana State University System may take a turn towards insularity that could produce a pick either risky or unsuitable.

With current Pres. King Alexander preparing to vacate the premises, by spring the System hopes to have a new leader in place, who also will head the Baton Rouge campus. Two familiar names quickly surfaced in connection with the job, neither fitting the traditional model of a doctoral holder with substantial academic experience.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Reviews of the term of Sean O’Keefe, who led LSU through the hurricane disasters of 2005, were positive. He holds only a masters degree and had spent just a few years in academia prior to his appointment. However, he had served in a couple of high-profile George W. Bush Administration posts and had years of prior government service in high-level Department of Defense positions. (He also had insider status as part of a politically-prominent family – for better and worse – from New Orleans.)


Edwards flunky complains of separated powers

In its latest spiel of demagoguery, the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration now attacks the concept of checks and balances.

That spleen venting came courtesy of Commission of Administration Jay Dardenne, who took umbrage at the Revenue Estimating Conference’s unwillingness to approve of revenue estimates higher than the current standards from April. Although economists from his office and the Legislature said they expected higher collections for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, with three members of the panel (including Dardenne) willing to raise the official estimates by $170 million and $103 million, respectively, because the House of Representatives’ designee Republican state Rep. Cameron Henry objected, that didn’t go through.

Henry noted that waiting longer would improve forecast accuracy. History backs him up. A recent study of REC forecasting showed a typical error of 1.7 percent (excluding 2006-07 affected by the hurricane disasters of 2005), which translates over time into an $83.3 million error. About four-fifths of the time the error came on the low range, but errors have come a fifth of the time in overestimating – and four times in the past decade – and in the past decade have averaged an overestimation of about $100 million.