Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

“When I ran for Governor of Louisiana, I made a promise to the people of this state that I would not raise taxes. I kept my promise. I’ve taken a lot of heat from politicians and special interests, including some in my own party, for my refusal to raise taxes. To some politicians, principles are meant to be compromised on and promises are meant to be broken. When I said I wouldn’t raise taxes, I meant it.”

Bobby Jindal, in his best Joseph Goebbelesque claim that he balanced the 2015-16 budget without raising taxes despite $750 million in tax increases approved by the legislature.

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Bobby Jindal calls it leadership.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate State Rep. John Bel Edwards was somewhat blunter. He said it was more like the Wizard of Oz: “No brains, no courage, no spine.”

Timmy Teepell is just beside himself and wanted everyone to be sure to see what Bobby said about it, so he sent it around to the same email recipient list and LouisianaVoice is lucky enough to be on that exclusive list.

We are, of course, talking about the ludicrous SAVE bill that saves nothing and which creates phony money in the form of tax credits to cover a phantom increase in college tuition that won’t generate any revenue for the state while not really saving higher education.

Got it? Great. Neither did we. FISCAL NOTES TO SB 93

Incredibly, after all the political posturing, the letter to Grover Norquist (who apparently holds the reins that control the Louisiana Legislature, though he is neither a Louisiana resident nor a voter and has never held elective office), 30 senators and 59 House members voted in favor of this bill built on nothing more than a whimsical scheme concocted by a governor with presidential aspirations that are, if possible, even more elusive now.

The House and Senate votes on the SAVE bill are presented here, not so much as a means by which readers may keep tabs on their legislators (though that is certainly a consideration) but to keep watch on a vindictive Bobby Jindal who has shown a propensity over his first seven legislative sessions to veto Capital Outlay projects for legislators who dare show a streak of independence by defying Jindal on any matter, no matter have trivial. SENATE VOTE ON SB 93  HOUSE VOTE ON SB 93

And because the make-believe increase in tuition is a fee increase, and not a tax, a simple 53 majority House vote was necessary for passage instead of the two-thirds vote.

But wait! The SAVE bill passage was deemed necessary before Jindal would sign off on the $750 million in tax increases passed to try and patch the $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. So, if it was part and parcel to the entire budget bill, why would it not require the two-thirds vote?

Well, because Kleckley says so, that’s why. And Kleckley takes his marching orders directly from Jindal who takes his directly from Norquist. So the bottom line is the Speaker of the House chose to split hairs in deeming that a tuition increase, even a fake one, was not a tax just as that $50 increase in vehicle registration is not a tax, but a fee.

Boy! You gotta hand it to Kleckley and Jindal and Norquist and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego. When it comes to making up rules on the fly, there’s no one better.

Unless it’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels Timmy Teepell the guy who said, or who at least must believe “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” When it comes to pure chutzpah, Teepell and the rest of Team Jindal have it. Some have it, some done; they’re full of it.

We at LouisianaVoice somehow got onto the mailing list of Friends of Bobby Jindal which apparently has more recently morphed into the Bobby Jindal Exploratory Committee. We’re not exactly sure how we got on that list but we’re surely glad we did. It makes for excellent fantasy reading.

Not only did the Jindal Exploratory Committee send me its email Friday night, but Teepell, to make certain we got it, re-sent it on Sunday.

Of course both cheese emails end with a plea for money. “If you agree, donate $50, $25 or even $10 so I know you stand with me,” Bobby says in his little message. Then he adds a p.s.:

“I will be announcing my plans for 2016 on June 24, less than two weeks away. I hope you’ll stand with me then too. Let me know you’ve got my back by making a special donation of $6.24 today so I know you’ll be with me.” Get it? June 24 announcement, chip in $6.24 for 6-24. Clever!

But that’s not the gist of the email, not by a long shot. Here’s what he said:

“Yesterday (last Thursday) in Louisiana, we came together to pass a balanced budget (did he mention the $400 million in one-time money to meet recurring expenses—again?) that protects higher education and health care. And we did it without a tax increase (bold his).

“When I ran for Governor of Louisiana, I made a promise to the people of this state that I would not raise taxes. I kept my promise (bold his again).

“I’ve taken a lot of heat from politicians and special interests, including some in my own party, for my refusal to raise taxes. To some politicians, principles are meant to be compromised on and promises are meant to be broken. When I said I wouldn’t raise taxes, I meant it (you guess it; bold his again).

“It’s long past time we had leaders in Washington who mean what they say, who don’t compromise their principles when the special interests start calling, and who keep the promises they made to the people who elected them.”

Yep. Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, and just maybe it’ll stick to something.

But it’s still a lie. The Louisiana Legislature, the same one he was boasting about “coming together,” just passed $750 million in tax increases and if you don’t believe they are tax increases, consult with the business leaders who screamed the loudest that they will pay most of those higher taxes. Not that we have any sympathy for the larger corporations that have been the recipients of billions of dollars in tax breaks during the Jindal Wonder Years; it’s long past time that they pay their fair share and stop putting the burden on the middle class and lower income segments of the population—all in return for economic gains that are questionable at best and practically non-existent at worst.

And you may wish to consult with smokers on that no-tax B.S. Jindal, or his exploratory committee are spouting. They will be paying 50 cents more per pack of smokes as the result of the cigarette tax increase from 36 cents per pack to 86 cents, a tax increase which Jindal insists never happened.

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it… “I’m leaving Louisiana in better shape than I found it,” he told the Monroe News-Star recently.

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it. LSU’s tuition is “certainly well under $10,000, when you look at fees and housing,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe in February. “It’s cheaper than other schools in the south, in the SEC.”

A check with LSU determined that LSU in-state tuition, housing, fees and books runs about $20,564 per year, up from about $5,000 per year when Jindal took office.

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it and soon you’re just a lonely boy crying wolf, Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling. Back in January, it was his claim of the existence of “no-go” zones in Europe, apparently echoing a claim by Fox News that had already been recanted by the network.

“Bobby did what he’s always done,” said Goebbels Teepell in his email blast. “He took a problem that people said was unsolvable, and found a solution.

“Governors don’t have the luxury of just saying no to problems. They have to solve problems, even problems that everyone else says are impossible (why, yes…emphasis his).

As the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby balanced the budget all eight years without raising taxes. In fact, he actually balanced the budget while cutting taxes for Louisiana families and job creators.” (Emphasis Timmy’s)

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it…


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“I am writing as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, along with several of my fellow House Members, to personally ask for your timely assistance in a very important matter.

“…It is our profound hope that you will be able to take a few minutes from your busy schedule to review this matter and contact us at your earliest possible convenience. The taxpayers of Louisiana anxiously await your timely reply.”

The first and last paragraphs of one of the most pathetic letters ever from 11 Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee seeking, of all things, guidance from Grover Norquist on Louisiana legislative matters.

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C.B. Forgotston calls it “the lowest of a lot of low points” in Louisiana legislative history.

He says legislators have “already abdicated their constitutional responsibility to Bobby Jindal,” and now they are pleading with a non-resident of Louisiana “for help doing their jobs.”

Sadly, we agree.

In the waning days of the 2015 legislative session 11 Republican members of the Louisiana House are groveling to Grover.

Eleven state representatives who made all kinds of promises when they ran for office, chief among the promises they most likely made was one in which they swore their independence and ability to represent you, their constituents, and to not be beholden to the special interests.

But now the Elastic Eleven, as we shall call them from this point forward, have revealed their collective feet of clay as the legislative session winds to a close by begging Sir Grover, the sole possessor of that is wise, to please, sir, won’t you reconsider your “no tax” pledge so that we won’t incur the wrath of Grovernor Jindal?

The 11 spineless legislators, all members of the House Ways and Means Committee, otherwise known as Norquist’s House “No-way and by No Means Committee,” following the lead of Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux of Lafayette, have each signed off on a letter to Grover Norquist dated today (Monday, June 8) but apparently written and faxed Sunday night whining that Jindal “intends to veto the 2015-16 Louisiana State Budget and/or revenue measures if the legislature doesn’t approve Senate Bill 284 (SB284),” otherwise known as the Student Assessment for Valuable Education, or SAVE credit program.

The SAVE bill is an illusion from the get-go, creating money out of thin air, apparently from bit coins, as Stephen Winham has already explained in LouisianaVoice.  The bill would establish a new higher education tax credit to cover a nonexistent student fee, which makes no sense whatever. It would save families and students zilch on their college bills while creating the illusion of a tax break worth of David Copperfield. Which, according to the gospel of Grover, would allow Jindal to claim in his equally illusionist—and delusional—quest for the Republic president nomination that the credit would “offset” other tax increases being proposed.


“We are told that SB284 would allow him to remain in compliance with ATR’s (Norquist’s personal organization Americans for Tax Reform) ‘no tax pledge.’ However, we do not have any direct confirmation from your organization that this is actually the case.”

Wait. What?

No direct confirmation from Norquist’s organization? Do these so-called leaders need permission or confirmation from Norquist before they can go form an opinion? Good God, what have we become in this state that our legislators have to go kiss the ring of some guy in Washington, D.C. before they can make a decision? Are we living in a bad version of The Godfather where Don Vito Corleone must be consulted on every move that is made?

Here’s a news flash, folks: Grover Norquist is not a resident of Louisiana, he does not pay taxes in Louisiana and, most of all, he does not vote in Louisiana. So why do you give a rat’s behind what he thinks?

“We are deeply concerned about the clear and present danger posed by this bill,” their letter said. “As conservative Republican legislators, we firmly believe SB 284 is the biggest threat to fiscal responsibility our state has ever faced.”

So, what, exactly is the problem? If it’s a bad bill, kill it in committee. Problem solved.

But they can’t do that. They’re so upset by all of this and so intimidated by Norquist that a tear probably ran down each member’s leg as they signed the letter.

“Mr. Norquist, we are proud to have enacted numerous genuine tax cuts in our time here, primarily to attract business and grow our economy,” the letter continues. “Over the last 5 years, these reductions have save Louisiana taxpayers over $2.1 billion. Over the past 7 years, the duration of Governor Jindal’s term, the reductions have topped $2.7 billion.”

My God in heaven. How pathetic is that?

And just how well have those tax cuts, by their own admission granted “primarily to attract business,” worked out for Louisiana? Well, according to various surveys we have:

  • The highest poverty rate in the nation;
  • The third highest income disparity between its richest and poorest citizens;
  • The second highest disparity of income between men and women (yet the legislature continues to defeat bills to close that gap);
  • The sixth worst ranking in terms of employee economic mobility (opportunity for advancement);
  • The fifth lowest percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees;
  • The fourth worst infrastructure in the U.S.
  • The 23rd lowest average salary and the seventy-lowest median household income;
  • The 17th lowest domestic product growth;
  • The nation’s second highest cancer mortality rate;

Couple that with our ranking as third from the bottom in quality of life, ninth worst state in which to be unemployed and dead last in business climate, and the picture just isn’t very encouraging.

And it seems the Elastic Eleven, while boasting of that $2.7 billion in tax cuts, mostly to corporations and certainly not the middle class or lower income segments of the population, have conveniently overlooked the current $1.6 billion budget hole those cuts have dug the state into.

“It is our profound hope that you will be able to take a few minutes from your busy schedule to review this matter and contact us at your earliest possible convenience,” the letter concludes. “The taxpayers of Louisiana anxiously await your timely reply.”

What?!!! Busy schedule? Review this matter? Your earliest convenience? The taxpayers?

To paraphrase former New Orleans Saints Coach Jim Mora: “The TAXPAYERS? The TAXPAYERS? Don’t talk to me about the taxpayers!” You no longer speak for the taxpayers. You are crouched in your collective fear of a lame duck governor and a non-resident who apparently is calling all the shots.

Are you truly concerned about the taxpayers? Well, surely there are a goodly number of Louisiana taxpayers in your respective districts who have very strong feelings, one way or another, about taxes.

So why do you feel the need to get the opinion of an absentee governor who long ago quit caring about this state or some yahoo in Washington before you are brave enough to venture off to the restroom to make tee-tee or butt pudding?

Do us all a favor. Grow a set. Right or wrong, be your own person. That’s what you were elected to do.

Those members besides Robideaux who signed this humiliating letter were Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, Lance Harris of Alexandria, Joe Harrison of Gray, Cameron Henry of Metairie, Eddie Lambert of Gonzales, Nancy Landry of Lafayette, Jay Morris of Monroe, Jim Morris of Oil City, John Schroder of Covington and Kirk Talbot of River Ridge.

Perhaps C.B. said it best: “I am calling on all of the legislators who signed onto this letter to resign immediately. You are an embarrassment to our state.”

To that we would add: if they won’t resign then perhaps the voters in their respective districts can help them with that difficult decision in October.

Oh, one more thing. Whoever is in charge of the legislative web pages should do a little updating. Of the 11 who signed the letter, only Robideaux and Lambert are listed on the web page as members of the Ways and Means Committee which must mean the web page is hopelessly out of date for anyone who wanted to do a little research.

Or was web maintenance among Jindal’s budget cuts?

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By Stephen Winham (Special to LouisianaVoice)

Bob Mann has done an excellent piece on this:  http://bobmannblog.com/2015/06/02/shell-game-shouldnt-higher-education-leaders-have-more-integrity-than-bobby-jindal/#more-5553

Many news stories have been written about it.  I don’t have to tell you what it does – nothing, except appease Grover Norquist and, by association, our governor.

Oh, wait, it does actually do something else – It adds to the plethora of recent stories about our state and governor that keep us the laughingstock of the nation.  If the national media starts playing this up, it really is going to seem like they are reprinting a story from The Onion. The name, itself, is a joke – on many levels:  Student Assessment for a Valuable Education – Think about it.

How this utterly ridiculous bill can be treated as the salvation for higher education makes a mockery of the value we allegedly place on higher education.  It is beyond a shell game.  It is so stupid, in concept and premise, as to make it hard to treat seriously.  I get angry just thinking that such a thing could be introduced, much less actually passed.  It is difficult to give the bill enough credibility to even read it – and reading it doesn’t help much.

Create a fee.  Don’t collect the fee, but give a tax credit for it as if it had been paid.  Send the money that would have been collected had the fee been paid to the Board of Regents to be distributed to colleges and universities.

If there is really no fee, where is the SAVE money coming from?  The fiscal note shows no numbers.  Is the money going to magically appear out of nowhere, be printed by the state treasury, or what?  If there is no money, how can this possibly help higher education?  If there is to actually be money in the fund, where will it come from?

After you create a fund that has no source, you pretend this non-existent tax credit offsets the same amount in unrelated tax increases.

Grover Norquist must be about the most powerful person in the United States.  He gets thousands of politicians to sign a {non- legally binding} pledge to not raise taxes no matter what happens.  No matter how stupid or irresponsible it makes them look, these people, including our governor , treat the pledge as if lightening will strike them dead if they don’t.  And the legislature follows suit.

Or at least John Alario does. The Senate President (R-Westwego) has vowed to overcome defeat of the measure by the House by inserting the SAVE bill in every piece of legislation passed by the House in order to force passage.

How can this be?  In local politics, we would assume anybody with that much power must have a video of the person he controls doing something Bobby Jindal would consider a mortal sin (like subscribing to the theory of climate change, endorsing the metric system or worse, equal pay for women).  So, is it possible Grover has a video vault with thousands of pornos of every politician who has signed his pledge?  That makes almost as much sense as SAVE.

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