Baton Rouge

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Editorial: Senator Soundbite goes after Gov. John Bel Edwards

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 1:11 PM

U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.
  • U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy has become the darling of the Washington press corps for his colorful turns of phrase. They are captivated by his faux-homespun utterances, such as his absurdly ubiquitous “I’d rather drink weed killer” than support the Affordable Care Act. His popularity on the soundbite circuit obscures the fact that Kennedy — who graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University and earned law degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Oxford — is a very erudite man. And a painstakingly ambitious politician.

So he had to know that calling for Gov. John Bel Edwards’ resignation during a recent interview with KPEL-FM, a Breaux Bridge radio station, would reverberate far beyond Acadiana. “He's a liberal Democrat and he wants his way,” Kennedy, a Republican, said of Edwards, a Democrat. “He thinks he has a mandate. He thinks his mandate is to tax and spend like they do in Massachusetts and California.”

Putting aside the ridiculous notion that Edwards is a liberal — his pro-life, pro-gun stances are anathema to national Democrats — Kennedy’s reference to Massachusetts and California is puzzling on several counts. For starters, both those states are doing far better than Louisiana by just about any metric.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Y@ Speak: #CityofYes

Posted By on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 5:30 PM

And a legislature of "noooooooo."

Plus: Happy Pride from the guy who tweeted "sex gifs" and rats ahoy.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Legislative forecast: mutually assured destruction?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 8:07 PM

State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, right, talks with state Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans, during Monday’s debate on the Louisiana House floor. - TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, right, talks with state Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans, during Monday’s debate on the Louisiana House floor.

Here’s a political riddle worthy of a Las Vegas morning line: Will Gov. John Bel Edwards’ seventh special legislative session end with a solution to the state’s “fiscal cliff” — or will we see another example of mutually assured destruction?

History portends the latter, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

History matters. It’s a shame so many people in positions of responsibility — from voters to lawmakers — ignore it so often. In the case of the governor and the House Republicans who are determined to deny him a “win” at all costs (including great costs to Louisiana citizens), both sides should learn from their mistakes.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Editorial: The nihilists in the Louisiana state legislature

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 2:17 PM

State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, right, talks with state Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans, during Monday’s debate on the Louisiana House floor. - TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • TRYFON BOUKOUVIDIS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, right, talks with state Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans, during Monday’s debate on the Louisiana House floor.

On June 4, the day the website WalletHub declared Louisiana to have the worst economy of all 50 states, the Republican-controlled Louisiana Legislature demonstrated that it’s a big part of the problem. In the regular legislative session, lawmakers failed to adopt a fully funded state budget, prompting Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, to veto the spending plan. Legislators cut that session short so they could reconvene for a special session dedicated to fiscal matters. They had until midnight June 4 to get the job done. The result was a shameful exercise that, once again, failed to produce a fully funded budget.

Their second spending plan would drastically cut funding for TOPS college scholarships and public universities, yet the GOP-dominated House rejected two measures that could have solved the problem. The final minutes of the session, in fact, resembled The Jerry Springer Show, with House members literally jumping from their chairs and screaming at each other as Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh deliberately dawdled at the mic to run out the clock.

Lawmakers now must gather in yet another special session (at a cost to taxpayers of about $60,000 per day) before the new fiscal year begins July 1. It will be the seventh special session in Edwards’ two-and-a-half years in office. Given the same cast of obstinate House Republicans, it’s not clear another special session will change anything — but hopefully voters are seeing clearly who’s responsible for the partisan gridlock.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Y@ Speak: extremely New Orleans

Posted By on Mon, Jun 4, 2018 at 4:40 PM


New Orleans: Authenticity War is heating up, plus everyone hates the heat and the Louisiana Legislature goes to special session heaven.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Down to the wire on the Louisiana budget — and the Louisiana Department of Health is in the crosshairs

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 4:24 PM

State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, proposed the House budget that would cut health programs and TOPS funding. - PHOTO BY SARAH GAMARD
  • PHOTO BY SARAH GAMARD
  • State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, proposed the House budget that would cut health programs and TOPS funding.

The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee today questioned a Republican budget passed by the House that would fully fund hospitals for the poor but slash funding for other health programs by $116 million.

Including federal matching dollars, the total cuts to the Louisiana Department of Health would amount to over half a billion dollars, compromising mental health services and substance abuse treatment programs when temporary revenue measures expire on July 1.

“We can’t continue to cut and appropriately meet the needs of the people of this state,” said Health Secretary Rebekah Gee.

The hearing illustrated the continuing divide between House Republicans, who are focused on cutting the size of state government, and many senators, who want to raise more revenue to avoid cuts in health care and the TOPS scholarship program.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Louisiana House committee votes to keep Hollywood South tax credits at $180 million

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 5:27 PM

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After a heated debate over priorities given the state budget shortfall, a House committee on Friday decided to keep the cap on credits for movies, TV shows and commercials shot in the state at $180 million a year rather than cutting it to $90 million.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 8-4 to maintain the current subsidy even though some legislators suggested that the money should be used instead to stave off possible cuts in vital public services.

The state-subsidized credits incentivize production companies to film in Louisiana, once deemed “Hollywood South.” But the Legislature also is trying to solve an estimated $648 million “fiscal cliff,” and it is not clear if it will approve enough revenue measures to avoid the cuts.

“I think health care and education should be prioritized over Popeye’s commercials,” argued the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice.

“I’m looking at something where we can prioritize our state dollars a little bit better,” he added. He noted a “poor” 23- to 25-cent return for each dollar that the state invests in trying to lure film productions.

By lowering the cap on the tax credits, the bill would have provided an additional $90 million to the state general fund.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Louisiana House Ways and Means committee frustrated over budget discussions

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 5:12 PM

Several of the 11 Republicans on the committee, which must initiate tax and budget bills, told Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne (pictured) they were upset that Edwards vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature that dealt with a $648 million shortfall solely through budget cuts. - PHOTO BY KAYLEE POCHE/MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • PHOTO BY KAYLEE POCHE/MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • Several of the 11 Republicans on the committee, which must initiate tax and budget bills, told Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne (pictured) they were upset that Edwards vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature that dealt with a $648 million shortfall solely through budget cuts.


Members of the House Ways and Means Committee were notably frustrated when they met Wednesday to begin the special session’s budget discussions, a conversation they have been having in some form for over two years.

However, not all of the 18 members were frustrated for the same reason, and the meeting quickly turned into an airing of grievances, some with Gov. John Bel Edwards and others with their own colleagues.
Several of the 11 Republicans on the committee, which must initiate tax and budget bills, told Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne they were upset that Edwards vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature that dealt with a $648 million shortfall solely through budget cuts.

While that budget would have fully funded health care priorities, it would have decimated state agencies with 24 percent cuts across the board, slashed TOPS scholarships by 30 percent and left Louisiana as the only state without a food stamp program.

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Editorial: To our leges — when it comes to the budget, get it right this time

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 3:36 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards addressing a crowd at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, stressing the need for both parties to work together to find solutions to the “fiscal cliff,” which begins July 1 after several temporary taxes roll off the books. - PHOTO BY DEVON SANDERS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • PHOTO BY DEVON SANDERS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards addressing a crowd at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, stressing the need for both parties to work together to find solutions to the “fiscal cliff,” which begins July 1 after several temporary taxes roll off the books.

The first day of the Louisiana Legislature’s special session to address the state’s $648 million budget gap got off to a familiar start: It was rancorous and partisan. One noteworthy exception: Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican, addressed a crowd at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, stressing the need for both parties to work together to find solutions to the “fiscal cliff,” which begins July 1 after several temporary taxes roll off the books.

House Speaker Taylor Barras, a Republican, called the governor’s speech “political theater.” Richard Carbo, one of Edwards’ top aides, replied, “Makes you wonder if he listened to the speech or if he just let their consultant write it in a crayon. Seems childish and petty.”

Things have degenerated so badly that some Republicans are sniping at one another. State Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, wondered on social media, “Did Billy Nungesser just endorsed [sic] the Governor tax and spend policies on the hardworking taxpayers of Louisiana? What a disappointment to the Republican Party of Louisiana!” To which Nungesser replied, “No, Billy Nungesser wants the state to come together and fix the problem. … Blake Miguez is a liar and the people of Louisiana know better.”

No wonder the Legislature is in its sixth special session to tackle a problem that it could — and should — have solved two years ago. Legislative comity, trust and decorum have hit rock bottom.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gov. Edwards appeals for public support in budget process as special session of the legislature begins

Posted By and on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 4:55 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards appealed for public support Tuesday in solving the state’s budget problems. - PHOTO BY DEVON SANDERS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • PHOTO BY DEVON SANDERS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards appealed for public support Tuesday in solving the state’s budget problems.

Gov. John Bel Edwards appealed directly to the public in a speech in Lafayette today for help in passing his plan to solve the state’s $648 budget shortfall.

The governor has proposed a half-cent sales tax, the reduction of some tax exemptions for businesses and the elimination of a provision that lets individuals deduct state income taxes in one year from the next year’s returns.

Edwards spoke at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette three hours before the Legislature began its sixth special session in the last three years to try solve the state’s budget problems.

“My hope is that we can shake the divisive partisanship that’s begun to take root, put aside our differences and put in place the solutions the people of Louisiana deserve,” Edwards said. “Now is the time to be Louisianans first and foremost.”

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