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Simple changes can rescue unwise LA budget

While in most cases going one-for-two is really good (unless you’re this team, where that’s not much above average), the Republican-led Louisiana House of Representatives really couldn’t afford to miss one on its budgetary matters.

Last week, the chamber dealt with two significant money bills: the fiscal year 2022 budget that in part depends upon and a supplemental spending bill wholly dependent upon federal government revenues rained down courtesy of borrowing that edges the country closer to financial crisis. Only on the latter did it act wisely, mostly.

HB 642 would take a quarter of an estimated $1.6 billion in largesse to refill belatedly the unemployment trust fund, while $300 million would contribute to fixing local government water woes mostly an artifact of declining population bases and deliberate consumer underpricing. Another $55 million would enhance port infrastructure and $50 million would make up for small business losses. The questionable part of the bundle, $119.5 million, would go to special interests in broadband (most of it, including boosting the Legislature’s technology even though for this purpose a separate $180 million from the federal government already is in the pipeline), logging, and movie theater operations. Sensibly, the remaining $676 million would be parked to await future demonstrated need throughout the year, allocated by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.


LA must remove idleness incentive payments

Louisiana needs to join the job stimulation party, and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards needs to get with that program – even if forced to by the Legislature.

Over the past few days, state after state has announced ends before their expiration date of expanded Wuhan coronavirus pandemic unemployment payments, backed by economic data demonstrating not only have these long outlived their usefulness, but also have short- and long-term harmful effects. The federal government, whipped into doing so by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden through narrow party-line votes in Congress, in March extended through Sep. 6 $300 per week payments to people not working; states pay only the administrative costs.

Part of the reason, if not the most influential explanation for, why the latest economic numbers show rising wages, rising unemployment, rising inflation, and relatively few jobs created is these extra payments – which on top of existing payments which vary from state to state average $638 a week with the maximum in Louisiana more than doubled to $547 weekly – discourage work. Keep in mind this means in the state  $14.22 an hour for not working.


Rookie Shreveport GOP councilors hit headwinds

Even though they have passed the halfway mark of their rookie terms in office, the two freshman Republicans on the Shreveport City Council haven’t quite gotten the hang of homework, yet.

When it meets later today, the Council will have on its agenda an items fronted by Councilor John Nickelson, and another by Councilor Grayson Boucher, with another couple by Nickelson in the bullpen. Those almost certainly won’t even come up, while Nickelson’s other may but likely face defeat, and Boucher’s may well pass but ends up more trouble than it’s worth.

Nickelson got into hot water last month, along with this Democrat counterpart Jerry Bowman, for introducing pay raise ordinances that would kick in for the mayor and councilors taking office in 2023. For mayor, a full-time job, the nearly $30,000 boost would push that salary to $125,000 a year, while for councilors this pay for a part-time gig would rise over $10,000 to a base $25,000 annually.


LA medical ganja law change = legalization

What’s all the fuss about legalizing marijuana use in Louisiana? Intended changes to medical marijuana laws would get the state there anyway.

Since the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee last week sent to the floor HB 699 by Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson, which would make legal marijuana cultivation, sale, and purchase, as regulated by the state, public debate has focused on the wisdom of the drastic change. Some suspect this will become inevitable while others say to hold off because the regulatory regime will botch any salutary criminal justice and economic effects, and the most traditional point out the negative effects that will outweigh any positive ones.

But the fate of this bill doesn’t matter much given the impact another bill has on the question of legal availability of weed. HB 391 by GOP state Rep. Tanner Magee would complete a multi-year process that began with limited distribution of marijuana for medical purposes that largely provided for (defined a bit generously) genuine needs that was not easy to abuse to one where about anybody who wants it for any reason can find it, as long as they have the cash.