|An unresolved problem
July 07, 2006 at 10:29 am
When the state appropriations bill emerged from the House, it had a conspicuous passenger - a $150 million line item for hurricane evacuations. Governor Blanco's floor leaders argued that the money was needed to pay state expenses for mandatory evacuations from future hurricanes. That explanation rang hollow to many Capitol observers, since it would equate to seven mandatory evacuations in one year.
|The means, the motivation and the opportunity
June 28, 2006 at 2:24 pm
The two most obvious areas needing attention in the aftermath of last year's devastating hurricanes were the levee system and housing. While efforts are being made to address those two important issues, another critical aspect of life in Louisiana remains reeling from the effects of the storms. Healthcare-particularly for the indigent and the uninsured-was under great stress before Katrina and Rita slammed into the state. Now, 10 months after the initial disaster, the crisis has worsened exponentially.
|Another one bites the dust
June 22, 2006 at 10:55 am
At the moment, only four days remain in the legislative session. Time enough to do harm, time enough to do good-and perhaps time enough to add a bit more to the record level of state spending. The voters who pay attention to the legislative process will probably focus on two things in the 2006 Regular Session: The first is the record budget headed for the governor's desk; the second is the ethanol mandate that will likely hit them in their wallets.
|Bush, Bilbray, Busby and control of congress
June 14, 2006 at 11:25 am
The scrimmages are ending, and game time is near. In the rough and tumble world of congressional politics, sides are being chosen. The whistle is about to blow for the real contests that will decide if the Republicans keep their majorities in both chambers of Congress, or if the Democrats take the trophies back.
|Class action lawsuit loophole
June 07, 2006 at 3:04 pm
Last year, Congress did something it rarely does these days; it passed a major reform in the face of strong opposition. Responding to many well-documented abuses, Congress enacted a compromise bill on class action lawsuit reform. Class action petitions were flooding state courts prior to the reform and, on too many occasions, the plaintiffs got coupons and their attorneys got lots of cash. One of the primary provisions of the federal bill was to channel most of the class action suits into federal court. However, the bill made a clear exception: Class action cases brought by a state's attorney general could still be heard in state courts.
|Two sides of Ethanol
May 31, 2006 at 2:38 pm
Legislation mandating that 2 percent of gasoline and diesel fuels sold in Louisiana must soon contain ethanol and bio-diesel blends will probably be on Governor Blanco's desk shortly. She has committed to signing the legislation in order to promote an alternative market for Louisiana farmers.
May 24, 2006 at 12:13 pm
One of the major problems remaining in the wake of Katrina and Rita is the huge number of insurance claims that must be resolved. Literally hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were damaged by the storms. Many of the claims have already been settled, but many more involve coverage questions that are not easily resolved. The huge number of claims in itself has taxed the claims settlement process to its limits.
|Good people, tough times
May 17, 2006 at 1:48 pm
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted 81,000 businesses in the State of Louisiana, most of them small businesses. Unless you are in their shoes, it is difficult to understand what the affected small businesses are going through. Imagine for a moment that, in the span of 24 hours, your store or office is heavily damaged, your customer base is greatly reduced, your workforce is dispersed, and you find out that your insurance does not cover all of your losses. Those are just some of the problems that tens of thousands of small business owners are facing in the aftermath of the storms.
|Spend it wisely
May 10, 2006 at 1:52 pm
Within the next few weeks, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) will meet to review data and establish a new official revenue estimate for state government. The new estimate will serve as the certified amount of revenue the Legislature has to spend in the FY 2006-07 state budget.
|What the New Orleans vote means for the future
May 03, 2006 at 12:01 pm
In a few weeks, displaced, challenged and beleaguered New Orleanians will determine who will be their next mayor. Either the incumbent, Ray Nagin, or the challenger, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, will have four years to try to bring some degree of normalcy back to the Crescent City.
|Last chance to do it right?
April 26, 2006 at 11:30 am
If a system were the only one of its kind in the United States, was very antiquated, and yielded poor results, one would think those in charge of the operation would be desperately trying to reform it. Not so with Louisiana's Charity Hospital system. The genesis of the Charity system was during Huey Long's tenure as governor. In subsequent years, it grew to become the main delivery system for indigent health care across Louisiana. At its inception 70 years ago, it was a progressive approach. But in today's world of federally controlled Medicaid, it's a dinosaur being kept alive by politicians for political purposes.
|A stronger economy and safer environment
April 19, 2006 at 11:53 am
A recent Wall Street Journal article told the story of a Montana geologist-turned-independent oil man who discovered what is now the highest-producing onshore field found in the lower 48 states in the past 56 years. The story line was that, for several years now, major oil companies have taken the approach that there are no more large fields left to find under American soil. The majors left, and wildcatters like Richard Findley took over.
|Sobering personal income news
April 12, 2006 at 11:06 am
The governor and Legislature should pay close attention to a recent bit of economic news. Data just released by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) had some sobering news for Louisiana. Due in large part to the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana's per capita income fell by an ominous 9.1 percent during 2005.
|‘MFP Reform’ would impact state budget
March 29, 2006 at 1:11 pm
A few things happened this month in the name of "MFP Reform" that, if approved by the Legislature, would have a major impact on the state budget. The Minimum Foundation Program, better known as the MFP, is the state funding formula by which the state sends money to Louisiana's 68 school districts to fund public education. Each year, the formula is devised by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and submitted to the Legislature, which can only accept or reject it. If the Legislature rejects the proposed MFP, the prior year's formula remains, with a 2.75 percent built-in inflation factor increase.
|Espouse optimism but budget cautiously
March 22, 2006 at 3:02 pm
As required by law, the governor recently submitted her executive budget for Fiscal Year (FY) `07 in advance of the Regular Session. The $20-plus billion budget proposal turned some heads due to its size and the amount of new spending it contains.
|A nasty surprise
March 08, 2006 at 12:10 pm
As tens of thousands fled New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Katrina, they left behind jobs to which many of them expected to return a few days later-just as they did after Hurricane Ivan the year before. As we now know, that did not happen. As it became painfully obvious that they weren't going back to work any time soon, many began filing unemployment compensation (UC) claims-some for the first time ever.
|Louisiana must heal from within
March 01, 2006 at 11:52 am
The biggest danger Louisiana faces right now isn't the specter of more hurricanes slamming into us from the Gulf. It is the divisions within us that were driven to the forefront by the twin disasters last fall. How soon and how well the entire state of Louisiana recovers and is made whole will be determined by the degree to which our citizenry wants to be unified.
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