The count: legislative special sessions since Gov. John Bel Edwards has been in office

The Louisiana Legislature is set to begin another special session May 22 to address an anticipated $648 million budget hole that will kick in at the start of the state's fiscal year July 1, due to the expiration of temporary taxes. Edwards, a Democrat, is demanding the GOP-led legislature provide concrete solutions.

17.74 million

Visitors to New Orleans in 2017
The University of New Orleans' longtime visitor research collection arm within the school's Hospitality Research Center is no longer the tourism metric for the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Data collection services D.K. Shifflet & Associates now is tracking those numbers, and it counted a 5.7 percent increase from 2016 in the number of visitors to New Orleans last year.

The count: Louisiana's health ranking

Louisiana dropped three points in health care access and affordability and ranked 49th out of 50 in overall health in a new report from the Commonwealth Fund, which also found a rise in "deaths of despair" (a combined death rate from suicide, alcohol, opioids and other drugs) between 2005 and 2016. The state also was ranked poorly in several other categories.

Increase in passengers at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Jan.-Feb. of 2018, compared to 2017

SOURCE: Director of Aviation Kevin Dolliole. Airport officials previewed the new terminal for the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport last week.

The count: Louisiana residents who think local news organizations are accurate

56 percent
"Most Louisiana residents (56 percent) think that local news organizations are accurate in their reporting, which is much higher than the share who think national news organizations generally get the facts straight (32 percent)," according to the survey's summary. A whopping 93 percent of those who identified as Republicans thought the national media favored one side.

The count: how much Louisiana has to put toward Medicaid vs. how much it receives from the feds

6 cents/94 cents
Louisiana's Medicaid expansion, which began in 2016 under Gov. John Bel Edwards, is predicated on the state ponying up a small amount of money to get much more from the federal government. By 2020 the state will have to put up 10 cents to receive 90 cents from the feds.

The count: how much Louisiana taxpayers spent since 2004 to settle harassment claims involving state employees

$3.9 million
The state Senate Governmental Affairs Committee last week approved anti-sexual harassment bills sponsored by three female legislators — Rep. Barbara Carpenter and Sen. Regina Barrow, both Democrats from Baton Rouge, and Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell. All three bills would require public servants to receive an annual minimum of one hour of education and training on preventing sexual harassment.

The count: cost of running for the Office of Inspector General in 2017

$3.9 million
According to the annual report released last week by OIG Derry Harper, the OIG cost the city $3.9 million last year, while identifying potential savings to the city of more than $2.2 million. Its funding is set at 0.55 percent of the municipal general fund operating budget.

The count: Percentage of Louisianans who think the state is headed in the 'wrong direction'

50 percent
Source: Louisiana State University's Public Policy Research Lab A year ago, only 40 percent of respondents in the annual study thought the state was headed in the wrong direction.

The count: Drew Brees' reported two-year contract extension

$50 million
With just $27 million of that guaranteed, ESPN's Mike Triplett wrote that Brees "might be as much of a bargain as anyone who signs in free agency this year." Still, not bad for a QB who will turn 40 in January.

The count: what a single parent of two needs to make for a 'modest but adequate' standard of living in Orleans Parish

$64, 170
According to a calculator released last week by think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a single parent with two kids needs $64,170 annually to achieve a "modest but adequate" standard of living in Orleans Parish. EPI estimates housing costs at $12,016 annually, child care costs at $10,093 and transportation at $9,808.

The count: Louisiana's ranking on the list of 'Best States'

All the king cake, crawfish, tailgating and music in the world weren't enough to sway the editors of U.S. News & World Report, who for the second year in a row rated Louisiana at the bottom of the "Best States" list. The ranking was determined by 77 factors in eight categories.


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