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Needless new spending to dig budgetary hole

We were warnedrepeatedly over the last couple of years – and now it looks to come to pass: because of unwise new spending commitments, a string of general fund budget deficits are poised to head Louisiana’s way over the next three years.

This week, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget met to make its usual budget adjustments and to collect information on current and projected revenues and costs, and the picture wasn’t pretty. For fiscal years 2024-26, at this point the general fund is predicted short nearly $2 billion.

Some of the gap comes from one-time measures. For FY 2024, $553 million must go to storm-related expenditures for state matches for relief from and hardening against future flooding, but that still leaves $255 million in uncovered ongoing expenses. That would have been covered except for the termination of $286 million extra in in regular Medicaid matching from the federal government as a result of pandemic emergency spending.


Govts shouldn't fund attempt to get, stay lit

While a number of people in and around New Orleans, and especially many visitors there, often take on a mission to get lit and stay lit, government should reject funding an unrelated effort that goes by that name.

“Get Lit, Stay Lit” is nonprofit initiative that pointedly doesn’t follow the philosophy usually espoused by those terms. Much more helpfully, the group Feed the Second Line has begun to create solar collection grids attached to city restaurants, with the purpose of giving these  establishments a source of power when it’s lost as a result of a storm or other event.

Inspiration for this came after Hurricane Ida last year, where power – except for a limited backup peaker gas plant otherwise needed importation into the city – didn’t come back on in some areas for over a week. Many restaurants lost refrigeration and had to ditch otherwise palatable food.


Gubernatorial decision looms for LA Democrats

On the heels of a somewhat-flawed media report about next year’s Louisiana governor’s race, it’s helpful to see where things stand less than a year from qualification.

Earlier this week, the Louisiana Radio Network reported that the 2023 contest to succeed the term-limited Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards was “unusually muddy.” Drawing largely on statements made by University of Louisiana at Monroe political scientist Joshua Stockley, the story described entry by Republicans Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and Treas. John Schroder as contingent on U.S. Senate outcomes in this fall’s elections, principally whether Louisiana GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, the latter running for reelection this fall, will become part of the body’s majority.

LRN should have checked their clips; Schroder told supporters months ago he was in, which triggered eventually the announced entrance of Republican state Rep. Scott McKnight to replace him. That doesn’t mean he will stay in, saying he would make a formal announcement later in the year and perhaps something he will reconsider if polling results continue to be discouraging, but desisting seems unlikely.


Most LA colleges stuck on stupid with passports

Insofar as vaccine passports go, Louisiana higher education remains largely stuck on stupid entering the new academic year, although with interesting and telling exceptions.

Despite the lack of efficacy behind the strategy to have all employees and on-campus attendees vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus as a means to curtail its impact, the University of Louisiana System and the Southern University System again will mandate this, while the Louisiana Community and Technical College System appears to do the same. However, the Louisiana State University System has given its campuses discretion whether to do so, and the main Baton Rouge campus, its health sciences campuses in New Orleans and Shreveport, and LSU Alexandria won’t.

Nothing has changed in the past year to add any scientific rationale to this required vaccination mandate; if anything, the extremely weak case has eroded further. Consider the flawed formal reasoning why to do so: vaccinations cut down on spread to reduce suffering, if not to save lives.


Bossier traffic deal exercise in opaqueness

Accountability never has been a long suit for Bossier Parish’s governments, and while that has begun to improve a recent issue shows there it’s still a work very much in progress, potentially to the detriment of taxpayers.

That issue concerns school safety concerns raised in the wake of shooting incidents, particularly earlier this summer. Bossier Parish School District schools have resource officers from the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office on all campuses, and in the case of a few they also direct traffic before and after the school day consequent to the dropping off and picking up of children. For the upcoming academic year, the District wants to keep the SROs on campus during these periods, necessitating the provision of additional law enforcement personnel on the streets around four schools in the parish and two in Bossier City.

Streets are the province of law enforcement agencies; anywhere in the parish the BPSO although in a municipality concurrently with its law enforcement agency if one exists, in this case Bossier City’s Police Department. Therefore, the simplest and most parsimonious solution has the BPSO assign deputies to the four schools and BCPD assign officers to the two schools as part of their normal policing activities. It seems extraordinarily unlikely that personnel are so stretched in either LEA that extra shifts and overtime would ensue to fulfill this simple and brief task.