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Dubious claims litter "news" piece on GOP

The incremental transformation of Louisiana’s political culture apparently has prompted some nose-growing at the Baton Rouge Advocate.

So far, 2020 has seen the first steps towards reversing nearly a century of acquiescence to oversized government. There have been others: a brief flare snuffed out quickly when Democrat-then-Republican former Gov. Buddy Roemer first came into office, then several years later under GOP former Gov. Mike Foster reversal occurred on a few specific issues such as education, and only a few years ago Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal mounted the most serious effort on a broad front, but one left incomplete.

But this time differs in that conservatives now hold every minor statewide office and command majorities in the Legislature, Public Service Commission, and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The last redoubt of the old order is the Governor’s Mansion, and it has seen its power wane to the point that it has lost control of the policy-making agenda that reduces it to revanchist defensive displays.


LA senators' virus fiscal bills fatally flawed

A number of fault lines have ruptured among Louisiana conservatives concerning a potential bailout of state finances as a consequence of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, reaching up to its highest elected federal officials.

Almost every state imposed some kinds of economic restrictions since the middle of March, and even those without these or those that had issued relatively relaxed and/or short-lived strictures have been affected by larger trends, such as the dramatic slowdown in air traffic, falling capital markets, and fear of virus transmission in the public. Combined, such dynamics have sapped revenue-producing mechanisms for states, costing them an as-yet untold amount in the aggregate.

This has led to a debate over whether the federal government, which already has apportioned $2 trillion to fight effects of the virus, should have its taxpayers pony up more to bail out state and local governments. And Louisiana’s two Republican senators have taken a leading role in this, to the consternation of many conservatives.


Delayed LA reopening shaped by politics

Declaring what all the data had indicated two weeks ago and what then seemed obvious to all objective observers except those under his authority, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards let more of his people go.

Monday, Edwards announced he would lift a number of restrictions encapsulated in several proclamations made by him over the past two months that brought large swaths of Louisiana’s economy to a halt. He outlined the contents of a proclamation he said he would issue later in the week, which would apply statewide at week’s end.

This came despite a pattern of data that largely replicated that of two weeks ago, when Edwards declared that because some regions in the state allegedly were not showing improved metrics the whole state had to continue to suffer under the bans. The conclusions drawn from that data as well were suspect, given that areas of the state under concern showed in terms of cases improvement and those deemed not troublesome actually showed increased incidence of cases.


Official bad budget news may prompt reform

It’s confirmed: Louisiana’s budgetary quagmire created by an economic shutdown related to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is not as bad as expected for this fiscal year but worse for next fiscal year.

The Revenue Estimating Conference recognized a $123.1 million reduction in general fund revenues, which may be spent on a variety of things, from the last forecast of 13 months ago for this fiscal year and $867.5 million for next year. Another $239.5 million fewer is projected for dedicated funds, which go to specific purposes, for this year and $165.1 million fewer for the upcoming year.

A couple of weeks ago, I pegged the fiscal year 2020 downdraft at around $550 million, but Republican Pres. Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress salvaged matters. Their 2017 legislation that cut federal income taxes meant Louisianans deducted lower federal tax payments against their state income taxes, resulting in higher collections than forecast even into 2019 of over $200 million. As well, the increased number unemployment insurance payments, which are taxable, with as much as 15 percent of the workforce drawing these and supercharged by the across-the-board federal $600 monthly bonus through July also will boost these collections.


Rogue GOP senator imperils LA tort reform

There’s a fox in the henhouse of Louisiana Republican effort to implement tort reform, state Sen. Louie Bernard.

Maybe a missed red flag was that Bernard, who spent most of his working life in government, won election as Natchitoches Parish clerk of court six times, up through 2011 as a Democrat. Or that as clerk of court he rubbed elbows with a lot of personal injury lawyers. Or that trial lawyer and Democrat former state Rep. Taylor Townsend, one of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwardstop campaign finance bundlers, gave to the limit to Bernard’s Senate campaign, as did Townsend’s uncle party powerbroker Democrat former state Sen. Don Kelly, and also their law firm as well.

The payoff began last week when Bernard cast in committee the only GOP vote for Edwards-backed insurance regulation, positioned as faux tort reform, that actually would raise the cost of Louisiana’s already ruinously-high vehicle premiums. The next day, he proved his anti-reform vote was no fluke.