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The Inquisitor column, Mar. 13, 2020

The circus at Bossier City hall continues ...


Turbulent times require LA revenue downgrade

As Louisiana political leaders assert they’ll come up with a quickie budget in case they have to move fast, they must recognize the other shoe will drop with lagging state revenues.

Yesterday, the Legislature’s Republican leadership described efforts to put together a contingency package, sparked by fears if Wuhan coronavirus could continue for some time to radiate as rapidly as it has then the Legislature would have to shut down. Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards joined them in that assessment. The state has to have its several budgets complete for next fiscal year by Jun. 30.

But they have to recognize that to rely even on existing official revenue forecasts likely overestimates the money the state will have available for the next 12 months starting Jul. 1. The Edwards Administration made an attempt to create estimates $103 million higher in the general fund as part of $285 million more in spending, backed by other increases in sources of revenues such as dedications. However, GOP leaders argued for a much lower number, which Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne rejected.


Right LA primary analysis, wrong guy

Right analysis, wrong agent.

A month ago, I wrote that Louisiana Democrats wouldn’t have any real influence over their party’s presidential nomination. With so many delegates elsewhere to be decided by the first Saturday in April – a position dictated because the holiday and elections calendar conflicted – the history of a nominee decided by then made it highly likely to neuter Democrats’ votes for this contest.

But I had the wrong guy. At the time, it appeared independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had the path necessary to win. His closest ideological competitor Democrat Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had performed well below expectations and seemed an obvious choice to depart the contest. Meanwhile, party establishment favorite Democrat former Vice Pres. Joe Biden flagged in the polls as he threw off gaffe after gaffe and Democrats’ recent attempt to impeach and remove Republican Pres. Donald Trump shone more unfavorable light on Biden’s activities in office, and independent former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared poised to convert a lot of campaign cash into primary votes, splitting opposition to Sanders.


Oil price plunge unmasks false Edwards claim

There goes not only the supposed budgetary surplus for this and the upcoming fiscal year, but also a fake accomplishment Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards alleged throughout his reelection campaign last year.

At the last meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference, Edwards’ representative Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne got all hot and bothered when House Speaker Republican Clay Schexnayder rejected his desire to have the panel declare that the state had $170 million more for this fiscal year and $103 million for the approaching one. The speaker argued for, respectively, lower and dramatically lower figures, saying they should keep “some conservative in the forecast.”

Dardenne objected to this that he called a politicization of REC forecasting – despite the process set up to induce political judgment into its decision-making – and voted to prevent the lower forecasts favored by Schexnayder and GOP Senate Pres. Page Cortez from becoming official. By doing so, he ended up keeping even more conservative in the official prediction, which remained unchanged from last year. And that has turned out to be a good thing.


Parade "hate" throws constitutionally protected

Carnival krewes can chunk what many see as racist throws, and there’s not a thing Louisiana or any of its municipalities can do to stop it.

Democrat state Sen. Troy Carter made news when he introduced SB 261, which would ban the tossing of “hate-related objects” during a parade or demonstration, that he called inspired by the story of young boy catching a throw featuring a caricature of a black man holding a watermelon with a noose around his neck. It proposes heavy fines and prison time for the thrower, although if not identifiable then fining the organization.

It’s a publicity stunt, because such a law violates the U.S. Constitution in many ways, starting with basic free speech rights. If someone wants to go around spouting racist themes by print, speech/broadcast, or, in this instance, symbol, you’re free to do so. And, naturally, what is a “hate-related” object, which the bill doesn’t define?