Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

By numerous accounts, the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry has allegedly operated like a crime syndicate for at least two decades and is responsible for the possible harassment, extortion, money laundering, and fraud of its agents. These allegations have been made for years but may now be proven. State and federal criminal charges are expected in the upcoming months. At least one legal expert expects federal racketeering laws to be used to prosecute former board agents, and possibly even current or former board members and staff. A paralleling class-action civil suit may not be too far behind.

The board investigator was employed by the LSBD for over two decades until his contract was recently terminated. He roamed the state, under color of law, harassing dentists and beating the bushes to generate revenue. Not surprisingly, he had state contracts that allowed him to self-generate his own fees. He seemed to be aided by the board general counsel, who often served in dual capacity as board counsel and board prosecutor, a violation of legal ethics rules and common sense. Because he only had a duty to his client the board of dentistry to act in its best interest, anyone that he prosecuted was denied due process. The same would be true if a police force handled its own prosecutions without an independent prosecutor; there would be no fundamental perception of fairness. He has also been known to hide behind the cloak of administrative law in denying defendants’ rights afforded under the US Constitution. He self-generated his own fees, and had apparently selfish financial motives for seeing dentists prosecuted. In 2012, he was found by the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to have violated the due process of a Louisiana dentist. This investigator and attorney were perhaps given cover by a few complicit board members and staff to carry out their harassment and extortion schemes.

The investigator has employed unlicensed investigators for years in what many have deemed elaborate entrapment schemes. His undercover operations sent in phony patients to dental offices, often complaining about fake symptoms and giving false medical histories. This was done for the purpose of collecting information to be used against dentists being investigated by the board for prosecution. At least one woman used in this capacity has even perjured herself under oath. The same unlicensed investigator that initially claimed under oath to have worked 6-7 investigations and even bragged about working in a dental office that was being investigated. Although she seems to have developed amnesia and has recanted previous testimony, she now claims she has only worked one or two investigations and applied-for but never actually worked in an office undercover. However, a Kenner dentist has issued a sworn affidavit saying that she indeed held employment in HIS office during the time the board was investigating complaints against him. Conducting investigations without a license is a violation of Louisiana law and carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. The dental board has been no help in getting to the truth. An unnamed state official recently stated “The board of dentistry has circled the wagons and is being uncooperative with our investigation.”

It is believed that the investigator has been utilizing these undercover investigators for decades, but he denies that claim. He has testified that the first time he did this was in 2007, although there are numerous contradictions to this testimony. One dentist claims he sent in an undercover operative into his office in 2006. When it was realized that He had broken the law in his investigation, the Louisiana Attorney General’s office stepped in to stop the investigation and future prosecution. The current board president acknowledged in a hearing that these undercover ops have been used for years by the dental board in their investigations. One former board member, that held his board position for almost 30 years, testified that the board has been doing this since “before I was born.” Based on his appearance, one might estimate that to be around the turn of the last century.

The investigator is currently under investigation by the PI board for utilizing unlicensed investigators. The Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners opened an investigation into his illegal activity and the scope exploded because of major criminal implications. The LSBPIE pulled in other state and federal agencies once it realized that he perjured himself, filed fraudulent reports with the board, created false scenarios that were used to prosecute dentists, and even submitted multiple fraudulent billing records to the state of Louisiana. These tactics have also gotten the investigator and two of his unlicensed investigators into trouble in a civil lawsuit. Not surprisingly, the board of dentistry purportedly misled the legislature into changing the law to cover the legal expenses of both the investigator and the unlicensed investigators being sued for entrapment. By one former board member’s account, the board of dentistry has spent over $500K defending the investigator, who was a state contractor, and two unlicensed investigators he hired as his “independent contractors”; this despite the fact that his contract held a specific clause requiring him to carry an insurance policy that indemnifies the state against such lawsuits. All three defendants claim to be utilizing insurance coverage earmarked specifically for Louisiana civil service employees, The legal defense of these defendants, although they have clearly broken the law, is being funded by the tax dollars of Louisiana citizens.


The attorney also finds himself in hot water with the Louisiana Bar and recently had his contract with the board terminated. He had a complaint turned into the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Committee for violating a dentist’s due process. This fact can’t be denied after a decision by a Louisiana appeals court in Haygood v. LSBD. In the aforementioned case, the board general counsel acted in the role of “independent counselor,” a role that requires neutrality and separation from the board. This independence isn’t possible since he was the board’s general counsel. He used his position to antagonize, harass, and control the board hearing to ensure a favorable verdict for the board of dentistry. Such tactics are the very reason that the LSBD has NEVER lost a board hearing. In his response to the bar complaint, he noted that he simply served in the capacity of independent counsel, and that he took NO part in the investigation or the deliberations. However, according to his own billing records, eye-witness testimony, and emails, both responses are demonstrably false. He was actively involved in the investigation from the onset, and even recommended fines and penalties that were harsher than what the disciplinary panel wanted to levy during deliberations. He is awaiting a hearing by the Bar, and one legal analyst predicts he may be disbarred or not allowed to practice administrative law for an extending period of time.

The next few months will prove crucial as investigations continue and indictments are issued. One dentist predicts the investigator will be the first to fall, but will not go down alone. He appears extremely bitter about his recent departure from the board and the way he was let go after two decades of service. According to a former board member, a long-time board employee recently left the board because of the egregious acts committed by the board over the last several years. These acts are believed to have been documented and turned over to state authorities in their criminal investigation. This allegedly includes information about a board employee that destroyed evidence in the case of a medical doctor that was harassed by dental board agents. This same employee has testified to working an undercover op, posing as a patient in a Lafayette dental office under investigation. Finally, it is believed this employee may have committed payroll fraud, as it is believed she was clocked in at the board of dentistry while she was attending college classes and finishing up her degree. The truth of these apparent criminal acts, stands in stark contrast to board president’s story that former board employee left because of the impending move of the board office to Baton Rouge that will occur in 2017.

Louisiana dentists that believe they have been unfairly targeted or prosecuted are beginning to ban together to file a joint civil action against the board and these agents.

The Power Broker

Barry Ogden ruled the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry with an iron fist for over two decades, armed with a complicit general counsel and a rogue investigator. The three men were nicknamed the “un-holy trinity” by those observers that followed their trail of tears. In the 2014 legislative session, state senator Martini introduced and passed legislation, with the goal of curbing these abuses.


Ogden has recently testified to the abuses of power, lack of transparency, and due process violations that took place under his watch. Anyone committed to justice and fairness should be alarmed.  Anyone fined or punished under these men should take notice. According to Ogden, your constitutional rights were probably violated, although he doesn’t actually come out and say it. Nevertheless, it’s hard for him to hide the big, giant pink elephant in the room. But he thinks you are probably “making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

Ogden, known for his fashionable footwear, kicks caution to the wind and plays fast and furious with laws he doesn’t seem to understand, he misinterprets, or chooses to ignore out of convenience. Ogden discusses:

  • How he ignored the internal rules the board set up to help avoid violating someone’s due process.
  • How the disciplinary oversight committee operates from a set of secretive, evolving rules.
  • How investigations require no due process, and “whatever happens, happens.”
  • How the board has no need for burden of proof through informal or Bertucci hearings (which are a waste of time in his opinion)
  • How a burden of proof  is only required in formal hearing, which the board NEVER loses
  • How the board has a system of informal hearings, where 3 dentists vote and Ogden and the president may choose to override when they are sure they have gotten it wrong or don’t understand the issue.
  • How Camp Morrison has utilized unlicensed investigators for years, a violation of state law, and considered an entrapment scheme by many.
  • How Morrison’s job is to “do justice” and “there is no need for truthfulness in an investigation.”

These are just a few of the hits. Ogden continuously serves and volleys with the truth like he has played in more than his fair share of ping pong matches. But that’s a story for another day. He reveals some interesting facts about a certain board member that had dementia, the rifts between the LSBD and the LDA, and the fact that the LSBD should have no deference over fee disputes.  Ogden claims, “We only got complaints on advertising from other dentists who was just siccing a dog on a competitor.”

If you or anyone you know believe they have been the recipient of these malicious schemes, please contact boardclassactionsuit@gmail.com and share your story.



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There is an interesting parallel to be drawn from Bobby Jindal’s less than earth shaking tax plan in which he advocates raising taxes on the poor (in apparent violation of his Grover Norquist no-tax pledge) while granting even further tax cuts for the wealthy (in harmonious accord with Norquist). https://www.bobbyjindal.com/tax/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100915_MS_TaxPlan%20(1)&utm_content=&spMailingID=23715672&spUserID=MTI1NzExOTg5NzE1S0&spJobID=660993528&spReportId=NjYwOTkzNTI4S0

For this comparison, we have Earthmother to thank for pointing this out to us:

  • Jindal’s tax plan is an overt appeal to the infamous 1 percent, the upper crust of society who have the resources to hire the best tax lawyers and CPAs in order to find as many tax loopholes as humanly possible to fine even more tax breaks.
  • Jindal continues to poll around 1 percent in Iowa despite his desperate, often comical, always absurd attempts to draw attention to himself in his ludicrous effort to gain traction.
  • Ergo, Jindal’s tax plan is obviously designed to appeal to the 1 percent in Iowa who favor his candidacy.


News flash, Bobby: 1 percent’s not going to cut it any more than your giving away state hospitals is going to solve the state’s health care problems.

One percent’s not going to get you elected any more than your repetitive cuts to higher education are going to help students struggling to pay higher tuition.

Bobby, you are on a fool’s errand and you’re either too stubborn to admit you don’t have a chance, or you’re blinded by unbridled ambition, delusional….or just stupid.

Your propensity to have—and worse, your willingness to offer to the world—your opinion on every subject, trivial or important, with or without basis (mostly without), long ago grew insipidly thin.

And still you persist.

You persist in saying that there should be no hyphenated Americans and you persist in saying immigration without assimilation is invasion and that those entering this country should learn our language and go to work.

I guess that shows that nothing has changed much over the past 523 years.

Today (Monday, October 12) is Columbus Day, so let’s examine what his arrival meant to the natives of North America. When Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, he wrote to the king and queen of Spain that he found natives who “love their neighbors as themselves” whose manners were “decorous and praiseworthy.”

He also wrote, according to Dee Brown in his book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee that the indigenous people should be “made to work, sow and do all that is necessary and to adopt our ways.” Columbus even kidnapped 10 of the friendly San Salvador native Taino tribesmen and carted them off to Spain so they could be introduced to the white man’s ways.

One of them died soon after arriving in Spain but not before he was baptized, sending the Spaniards into a state of religious euphoria in the knowledge that they had made it possible for the first Indian to enter heaven.

As a diplomatic expression of their willingness to assimilate, other European explorers who followed Columbus looted and burned villages. They kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children and sold them into slavery. In a generation, the Europeans had ravaged the island, killed the vegetation and its inhabitants—natives, animals, birds and fish—and turned San Salvador into a wasteland…and then they abandoned it.

How’s that for assimilation, Bobby?

The most outrageous utterance in a long string of outrageous utterances, however, was his unsolicited opinion concerning the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/louisiana-gov-bobby-jindal-defends-comments-blaming-oregon/story?id=34403499

“The killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns,” Jindal wrote in yet another of his inane op-eds. “Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He is a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here.”

Well, Bobby, let’s examine your record, particularly your last term. You have not and have never been in our lives. You have spent the entirety of your last four years in Iowa. When you weren’t there physically, you were there in spirit, there in your far-fetched, ambitious, implausible dreams.

You have been a complete failure as a governor, a leader, and an inspiration to 4.6 million citizens of Louisiana. When you were elected, you carried the hopes and dreams of a better Louisiana into the governor’s office. You promptly discarded those hopes and dreams in favor of an unrealistic pursuit of your own impossible hopes and dreams.

You should be embarrassed to even show your face in public in Louisiana, much less choose to build your post-political home in Baton Rouge.

In short, you’re the problem here.

But hey, don’t sweat it, Bobby. You still have an unshakable lock on your 1 percent.


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With all that’s going on with the Louisiana State Police, it has become easy to overlook the fact that we will be voting in a little more than two weeks for someone to try to undo the damage done by eight years of the Jindal carnage inflicted upon this state. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the State Police in a day or so.)

The governor’s race, unlike those of past years, has failed to generate a lot of interest among voters. That’s probably because the media has convinced us that U.S. Sen. David Vitter is a lock to be our next governor. I mean, who could possibly get excited over an election when we’re being told that it’s inevitable that the pariah of femininity will be our next governor?

Speaking of the media, the questions posed in the televised debates thus far have been nothing short of disgraceful. It’s no wonder that people are turned off by this year’s election. How, after all, does Kim Davis even begin to figure in the issues facing Louisiana’s next governor? That question was just plain stupid and a huge waste of time.

And who put the media in charge of anointing winners even before an election? Do our votes actually count anymore? (We will be addressing those questions shortly.)

First of all, what self-respecting Republican woman in Louisiana would ever cast a vote for someone like Dave Vitter? For that matter, what Republican woman would ever allow her husband to vote for this man who has only contempt for women as exhibited by the fact that:

  • He frequented prostitutes in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans;
  • He kept an aide, Brent Furer, on his payroll for more than a year after Furer held his ex-girlfriend hostage, threatened to kill her and in fact, attacked her with a knife. Vitter denied Furer was assigned to women’s issues. Furer’s title? Legislative Assistant on Women’s Issues.
  • He voted a year ago to block the Paycheck Fairness Act despite the fact that Louisiana ranks second-worst in the nation in gender pay disparity.

We say Republican women only because we feel it’s a foregone conclusion no Democrat woman would ever vote for this man who continues to refuse to address his personal and public issues with women.

But all that aside, let’s look at the real reason that Vitter is considered a favorite to make the runoff against Democrat John Bel Edwards.

Money. Lots of money.

And that brings us to the questions we posed earlier: Who anoints the winners and do our votes really count?

First of all, a super PAC is established for his benefit. Super PACs are the scourge of the democratic process, folks. End of discussion. And his Super PAC, ironically dubbed The Fund for Louisiana’s Future in what must have been someone’s idea of a cruel joke, had more than $3 million on hand at the end of 2014. And that doesn’t even count the money he has raised directly in corporate and special interest contributions.

The very existence of the Super PAC teetered on the edge of legality and was approved only after a court fight. Super PACs are barred from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns but if you believe Vitter has not involved himself in the decision-making process of The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, I’ve got some beautiful beachfront property near that Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish for sale really cheap.

If you trust Vitter even for a nano-second, I’ve got a straitjacket in just your size.

His Super PAC aside, Vitter has another $4 million on hand as we head into the final stretch for the first primary on Oct. 24. As anyone not in a coma must surely know, The Fund for Louisiana’s Future has already initiated a media blitz attacking Vitter’s two Republican opponents, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle on the assumption that he must eliminate them to get into the runoff. He apparently is holding off on attacking State Rep. John Bel Edwards until the second primary.

Compare that to $1.6 million for Darden who has yet to crank up his TV ad campaign, $1.4 million for Edwards, and $1 million for Angelle.

Far more telling, however, is an examination of who contributes and where those contributions are coming from.

For that, we pulled only the contributions of those giving the maximum allowable $5,000. To go deeper would have just taken far too much space.

Before we begin our look into the contributions, ask yourself this question: If you give $100 or even $250 to a candidate and he is elected and down the road your interests conflict with a donor who coughed up the $5,000 maximum, who do you think will get the politician’s ear? What chance would you have in such a scenario? We thought so.

This is not a hypothetical, folks. This is real. It’s not Monopoly money. It’s money poured into campaigns by special interests who have a reason for parting with their money—and the reason is not their hunger for good, honest government that motivates them.

Remember that if you remember nothing else when you walk into that voting booth on Oct. 24.

You are a moving part in a very large machine that is being lubricated with cash in order to turn out legislation that benefits any number of special interests, none of whom even knows who you are. When you exit the voting booth, that big money has no more use for your services—until the next election cycle.

Cold? Callused? Jaded? Yes, yes, and yes. But we at LouisianaVoice are pragmatists, not idealists. We as a society do not pledge allegiance to the flag; we pledge allegiance to the oil companies, the banks, Wall Street, and major contractors. Sorry if we burst anyone’s bubble, but facts are facts, unpleasant though they may well be. Here’s another little factoid: the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist. Chew on that for a while, tea partiers.

Looking just at $5,000 contributions, we find that Vitter had 970 donors putting up the maximum, or $4.85 million. That’s a huge—very huge—chunk of his total contributions. Of that 970, there were 164 (17 percent) from out of state. That’s $820,000—more than the total of all the $5,000 contributions to Edwards and only $30,000 less than those of Dardenne.

Angelle barely had a third as many $5,000 contributors (340 for $1.7 million). Of those 340, no fewer than 81 (24 percent) were from out of state. Like Vitter, the $5,000 contributors made up a sizable block of his total campaign contributions. Where does that leave the $5, $10 and $20 contributors in the overall scheme of things?

From those figures, the numbers dropped precipitously for Dardenne and Edwards. Dardenne received 170 contributions of $5,000 each for a total of $850,000, about half of his total contributions, according to records obtained from the State Ethics Commission. Sixteen, or 9.4 percent, were from out of state.

Edwards recently issued a press release touting the low number of out-of-state contributors to his campaign. Records show that he received 114 contributions of $5,000 each for a total of $570,000. Only three of those, or 2.6 percent, were from out-of-state, in his case, all three from Texas.

This is an important election and Louisiana citizens need to get up off the couch, put down that bag of chips and forget about football for the few minutes that it takes to act on this state’s future.

No matter who wins, it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get this state back on the course of recovery after eight years of neglect, abuse, and outright corruption. The new governor is going to inherit a massive deficit, all manner of problems from higher education and public education, the state hospital privatization mess, a world-leading incarceration rate, corporate welfare (Stephen Waguespack’s protestations notwithstanding), and one of the highest poverty rates in the country, to name but a few.

So here is one last question to ask yourself before you enter that voting booth:

Do you vote for the candidate who had the most money to saturate the television airwaves with ads containing half-truths and outright lies, a candidate who is bought and paid for by Wall Street, the pharmaceutical firms, big oil, the major banks and similar special interests or do you vote for the candidate who you truly feel will devote his efforts to addressing the state’s problems head-on?

The state’s future dos not belong to The Fund for Louisiana’s Future. That vote-buying Super PAC is not even in Louisiana; it’s in Washington, D.C.

The state’s future instead belongs to you.

The choice is yours.

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None of the $11 million earmarked to pay for state police pay raises through enhanced debt collection efforts by the Office of Motor Vehicles has been submitted to the state general fund, according to a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile, a confidential report prepared for legislators has been obtained by LouisianaVoice which indicates that despite State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s claim last January that the pay raise would not affect “upper echelon” personnel, 145 lieutenants, captains, and majors got pay raises totaling $5.3 million per year. Additionally, four deputy superintendents received raises averaging $26,170 (23 percent) each.

Seven pilots ($29,769, or 39 percent), 24 emergency services personnel ($31,247, or 45 percent), two polygraphists ($33,995, or 49 percent), and six support personnel ($25,309, or 31 percent) also received pay hikes.

The breakdown shows that 13 majors and 106 lieutenants received 46 percent pay hikes and 26 captains got bumps of 53 percent. The average salaries ranged from $108,571 for lieutenants to $136,333 for captains, the report indicates.

The largest individual salary increase was $57,252 and the largest single percentage increase was 74 percent, the report says.

State classified employees, when they receive merit increases, generally receive only 4 percent increases but those salaries have been frozen for nearly six years because of budgetary constraints.

Moreover, a separate national study released on Tuesday (Sept. 29) listed police departments from three Louisiana cities as among the worst paying in the nation, including one rated as the lowest.

Altogether, 945 state troopers, ranging from cadets to majors, accounted for more than $20 million in pay increases, thanks to two measures passed by legislators six months apart in 2015.

Unsaid in the report was the effect the pay raises will inevitably have on the unfunded accrued liability (UAL) of the Louisiana State Police Retirement system.

State senators, with minimal discussion, approved the $11 million pay increase during the waning days of the 2015 legislative session only six months after troopers received their first sizable increase. Together, the two raises boosted state trooper pay by 30 percent, according to calculations by the Legislative Fiscal Office.

The first state police pay adjustment was approved in June of 2014 but the money did not become available until the Jan. 19 increase took effect.

In the case of the second pay raise, however, the funds were committed before they were received and none of the anticipated $11 million from old tickets has been received by the state general fund, a situation that could leave the state another $11 million short if the money is not forthcoming by the end of the current fiscal year which closes next June 30.

Lines 42-47 on page 65 of House Bill 1, the Appropriations Bill, appropriates the $11 million “Payable out of state general fund by Statutory Dedications out of the Debt Recovery Fund to the Office of State Police for additional salary support for state troopers, in the event that House Bill No. 638 of the 2015 Regular Session of the Legislature is enacted into law.”

HB 638, by State Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge), which was enacted into law and signed by Bobby Jindal as Act 414, provides that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) collect certain fees “associated with the suspension of an operator’s license” which are related to auto liability insurance requirements. The fees become delinquent after 60 days and are referred to the Office of Debt Recovery.

The bill earmarks $25 million from the Debt Recovery Fund for use by the Office of State Police. Here is the legislative digest of HB 638 (ACT 414)

But with none of that money having been yet gone to the general fund, legislators are beginning to worry.

Additionally, the state police pay increases have not yet produced additional sergeants’ positions. The report said, “State Police leadership claimed in two meetings that the agency was experiencing difficulty attracting Master Troopers who were interested in applying for Sergeant Positions.” The number of Sergeants, however, has only increased by four, from 193 to 197, it said.

Moreover, there have been only 123 promotions within state police ranks and 44, or more than a third, were from cadet to trooper.

There has been one promotion from captain to major, five from lieutenant to captain and 11 from sergeant to lieutenant, the report indicates.


Coincidentally, even as the two pay increases combined to make state police the highest-paid law enforcement agency in the state, a national survey Tuesday (Sept. 29) listed three Louisiana cities as among the 30 with the lowest pay for police officers.

Alexandria had the lowest pay in the nation among major cities with an average salary of $31,370 per year for officers. Monroe, with an average salary of $34,000 was eighth lowest, while Lake Charles was 21st lowest in the state with an average salary of $35,320.

The State Police Retirement System (STPOL) had the smallest UAL of four state retirement systems which combined for an UAL balance of $18.588 million in 2013. The breakdown for the individual systems shows that the Teachers Retirement System (TRSL) had the largest UAL of $11.13 million, followed by the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS) at $6.25 million, the Louisiana School Employees Retirement System (LSERS) at $863.7 million and STPOL at $305.4 million (up from the $166.5 UAL of 2006).

STPOL receives revenues from the state and from taxes on insurance premiums but the funding levels from the state have decreased steadily since the high of 73.1 percent of 2007 to 59.1 percent of 2013.


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We couldn’t resist this one from our favorite cartoonist. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The timing could not have been better—or worse, depending upon your perspective.

But all things considered, Wednesday was a bad day for a certain Louisiana governor flailing away in a doomed quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

If he posed so much as a remote threat against any of his Republican opponents for the Republican presidential nomination, today’s events would surely be used against him in an campaign ad blitz. But he doesn’t and they won’t.

On the one hand, there was the survey released Wednesday (Sept. 24) by 24/7 Wall Street, the service that publishes all sorts of survey results from the best-selling cars to the worst-performing state governments. The latest survey shows Louisiana to be the fifth worst-educated state in the nation.

On the other, there was the story, also on Wednesday, that said Louisiana’s public colleges and universities have been told to “be prudent” with their current budgets—a not-so veiled way of saying get ready for more budget cuts.

The U.S., in case you haven’t been paying attention, has some of the most expensive college educations in the world—and the expenses have risen to record highs, the survey said. In fact, the cost of a college education has increased faster than the rate of inflation—24 percent just since 2012,

Only 22.9 percent of adults in Louisiana hold at least a bachelor’s degree, which ranks 46th in the nation and well below the national average of more than 30 percent. That puts the state two notches behind Alabama’s 23.5 percent and ranked higher than only Kentucky (22.2 percent), Arkansas (21.4 percent), Mississippi (21.1 percent), and West Virginia (19.2 percent). Massachusetts had the highest with 41.2 percent of its adults having attained at least a bachelor’s degree.

In fact, Louisiana ranks just ahead of our next door neighbor in so many surveys that rumor has it there may be a bill introduced in the next legislative session to change the state’s motto from “Union, Justice and Confidence” to “Hey, At Least We Aren’t Mississippi.”

Louisiana had the fourth lowest percentage (83.6 percent) of high school graduates.

Louisiana also ranked seventh lowest with a median household income of $44,555 in 2014 and even those among the 22.9 had the seventh lowest median earnings ($46,903) for bachelor degree holders. Even more depressing is the fact that the median income for holders of bachelor’s degrees managed to pull the overall median average up by less than $2,500 per year.

Nearly one in five Louisianians live below the poverty line, the third highest poverty rate in the nation. This, in a state with three of the 10 busiest ports in the nation (including the busiest, the Port of South Louisiana, and the 4th and 10th busiest, New Orleans and Baton Rouge) and three of the nation’s largest refineries (Marathon in Garyville, Exxon in Baton Rouge, and Citgo in Lake Charles).

Moreover, the state is embarrassingly rich in chemical plants, oil and gas reserves, sulfur, agriculture and seafood. But still we consistently lag behind the rest of the nation in every conceivable measure of progress and prosperity.

And yet, here we are, teetering at the edge of yet another midyear budget shortfall, or as State Treasurer John Kennedy said, “We have hit the trifecta, but not in a good way.” He was talking about the news that we have just learned that we’re going to have to make up for last fiscal year which ended June 30 with a deficit (though Bobby Jindal and Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols won’t say how much). Together, Kennedy said, the combined shortfalls for last fiscal year and the current year combine to paint a bleak picture for next year as well, as the combined deficit is expected to approach $1 billion.

(Note to Kristy: Don’t let the door hit you on the backside as you exit next month on the way to grab your golden parachute with Ochsner Health System.)

Though the Jindal administration isn’t saying much about the latest crisis (you have to wonder how Bobby will spin this in his fiscal responsibility message on the GOP presidential campaign trail), Kennedy at least doesn’t duck the issue. He estimates it to be more than $100 million.

This budgetary news comes on top of the Medicaid shortfall of more than $300 million, a TOPS fund which is projected to be $19 million short and word that Jindal’s ill-fated hospital privatization plan has hit yet another major setback.

LSU, citing a breach of the public purpose, terminated its cooperative endeavor agreement with the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana (BRF) barely two years after the foundation took over operation of two north Louisiana hospitals.

Saying all avenues to resolve differences had been exhausted, LSU President F. King Alexander said that Academic Health of North Louisiana Hospital Management Co., Inc., will take over operation of University Health Shreveport and University Health Conway.

It was so bad for Jindal that he missed a golden opportunity when the Pope spoke to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

When President Obama visited New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last month, Jindal sent a message asking that the President not talk about climate change when he came here. But when he had the opportunity to offer that same advice to Pope Francis, Jindal, a Roman Catholic, remained mute.

Perhaps he was just too busy traveling around Iowa telling anyone who would listen (that would be Timmy Teepell and Kyle Plotkin) what a great job he has done as governor of Louisiana and how he is uniquely qualified to run the country.

We are reminded of the Winston Churchill quote about Clement Atlee that could be adapted so easily to our governor: An empty taxi pulled up in front of the Iowa caucus and Bobby Jindal got out.

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