Archive for the ‘Exemptions, Incentives’ Category

Those Duck Dynasty folks up in West Monroe are riding their gravy train for all it’s worth, scoring a $415,000 tax break every time one of their sappy episodes airs, lavishing the kiss of death (disguised as endorsements) on unsuspecting politicians hoping to capitalize off their name, bashing anyone who happens to think or act differently, selling merchandise, and demanding exorbitant fees for personal appearances.

Take Vance McAllister, the notorious kissing congressman. Endorsed by the Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family in his initial run against State Sen. Neil Riser. He won that race but was out a year later, disgraced by that grainy video of him swapping chewing gum with a female staffer who happened not to be his wife.

Then there was the entire Robertson family making nice with Bobby Jindal during the latter’s disastrous term as part-time governor and presidential nominee wannabe.

More recently, Willie Robertson made that painful but hilarious video with U.S. Sen. Dave Vitter in which Robertson tried to convince us (a) that the two had been traipsing about in the woods together (Vitter was in a camo top but was also wearing pressed slacks and a dress belt—not really conducive to stalking wildlife but apparently suitable for a cheesy video) and (b) to be sure and vote for Vitter who Willie said had made mistakes “but who hasn’t?”

Jindal and Vitter last week tanked just days apart, underscoring the value of a Duck Dynasty endorsement.

By my count, that puts the Duck commanders at 0-3, which pretty much tracks Phil Robertson’s career as the Louisiana Tech quarterback back in the late ‘60s. I know. I was sports editor of the Ruston Daily Leader at the time and had the unenviable task of trying to write something positive about that Shreveport Thanksgiving Day game in 1966 when Phil completed more passes to Southern Mississippi defensive backs than to Tech receivers.

But now it’s been learned—if it wasn’t known already—that the Duck boys are mercenary money grubbers on top of everything else.

Recently, I accompanied my grandson to Louisiana Tech to tour the campus where he intends to enroll next year. We were paired with a couple from St. Charles Parish whose daughter also plans on joining the computer engineering program there. Her dad and I struck up a conversation during the tour and the talk soon turned to sports and politics as it generally does with men. An executive in the offshore oil industry, he made it clear he was a fan of neither Jindal nor Vitter.

When I mentioned the common affiliation the two had with the Robertsons, he grunted and related a story about how he was charged with obtaining a celebrity guest for the St. Charles Parish Catfish Festival a couple of years ago.

With the Robertsons riding the crest of their popularity, the choice was a natural one. He called them to obtain the particulars of booking one or more Robertson family members for the event.

“They wanted $100,000 as their fee, plus luxury hotel accommodations and luxury transportation to the Monroe airport and from Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans to the festival,” he said, adding, “We don’t even have a luxury hotel in St. Charles.”

I opined that the fee they were demanding told me one of two things: They are either full of themselves or they just didn’t want to participate.

“I think they were full of themselves,” he replied, “but if they didn’t want to do it, they sure got their way. I fell out with Phil Robertson right then and there.”

Apparently a tax break of up to $415,000 per show even as state colleges took repeated budget cuts just isn’t enough. http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-04/-duck-dynasty-keeps-tax-break-as-jindal-cuts-louisiana-colleges

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Bobby Jindal has promised to find money to address the funding crisis facing Louisiana’s public colleges and universities but besides the obvious dire financial straits in which the state currently finds itself, two important obstacles must be overcome by our absentee governor: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Grover Norquist.

The odds of appeasing just one in efforts to raise needed funding for higher education will be difficult enough, given Jindal’s allegiance to the two. Obtaining the blessings of both while simultaneously distracted by the siren’s call of the Republican presidential nomination will be virtually impossible.

Higher education, already hit with repeated cuts by the Jindal administration, is facing additional cuts of up to $600 million, or 82 percent of its current budget, according to news coming out of the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/04/louisianas_higher_education_bu.html

Such a fiscal scenario could result in the closure of some schools and across the board discontinuation of programs.

Moody’s, the bond-rating service, has warned that Louisiana higher education cannot absorb any further cuts. http://www.treasury.state.la.us/Lists/SiteArticlesByCat/DispForm_Single.aspx?List=c023d63e%2Dac65%2D439d%2Daf97%2Dda71d8688dff&ID=884

Louisiana has already cut per student spending by 42 percent since fiscal year 2008 (compared to the national average of 6 percent), fourth highest in the nation behind Arizona, New Hampshire and Oregon. The actual cut in dollars, $4,715 per student, is second only to the $4,775 per student cut by New Mexico. To help offset those cuts, Louisiana colleges and universities have bumped tuition by 38 percent, 10th highest in the nation but still a shade less than half the 78.4 percent increase for Arizona students. http://www.cbpp.org/research/recent-deep-state-higher-education-cuts-may-harm-students-and-the-economy-for-years-to-come?fa=view&id=3927

But that’s all part of the game plan for ALEC, the “model legislation” alliance of state legislators heavily funded by the Koch brothers which has as its overall objective the privatization of nearly all public services now taken for granted: prisons, pension plans, medical insurance, and education, to name but a few. http://www.cbpp.org/research/alec-tax-and-budget-proposals-would-slash-public-services-and-jeopardize-economic-growth?fa=view&id=3901

Jindal has already incorporated some of ALEC’s privatization proposals, namely state employee medical insurance and elementary and secondary education. He met with less success in attempts to initiate prison privatization and state retirement reform.

ALEC also proposes abolishing state income taxes, another proposal floated and then quickly abandoned by Jindal but pushed successfully by Kansas Gov. Brownback. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/21/vwelfap/

And then there is Norquist, the anti-tax Republican operative who founded Americans for Tax Reform and who somehow survived the Jack Abramoff scandal and thrived. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Abramoff_Indian_lobbying_scandal

What strange hold does he have over Jindal?

The pledge.

Jindal, as did a couple dozen Louisiana legislators, signed onto Norquist’s “no-tax” pledge—a promise not to raise taxes under any circumstances. The pledge even prompted Jindal to veto a 4-cent cigarette tax renewal in 2011 because in his twisted logic, it was somehow a new tax. The legislature had to adopt a last-minute constitutional amendment to make the tax permanent.

Undeterred, Jindal, through communications director Mike Reed, has said he would support a cigarette tax increase this year only if it is offset with a tax cut elsewhere. This despite estimates that a higher tax would not only generate needed income for the state, but would, by encouraging smokes to quit and teens to not start smoking, create long-term health care savings for the state. His veto also flew in the face of a 1997 article that Jindal authored while secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in which he said, “Society must recover those costs which could have been avoided had the individual not chosen the risky behavior only to prevent others from having to bear the costs.” http://theadvocate.com/news/11930951-123/lawmaker-proposes-154-state-cigarette

Not to be confused with the “no-go” zones of Jindal’s vivid imagination, the “no-tax” pledge apparently is a good thing for Republicans and tea partiers and is considered sacrosanct to those who have taken the oath even if it locks politicians into the impossible situation of trying to resolve a $1.6 billion budgetary crisis while not increasing revenue.

Jindal routinely runs proposed legislation by Norquist for his blessings, according to Jindal spokesperson Reed who admitted as much. http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2015/03/in_jindals_world_tax_is_a_tax.html

Even U.S. Sen. David Vitter signed the pledge but has assured voters it won’t be binding on him as governor—a dubious promise that would make him unique among signers. After all, a pledge is a pledge and when one signs it, so what difference would it make which office he holds?

So, how does all this figure into the budget crisis for higher education in Louisiana?

In a word, privatization. Or, taking the “state” out of “state universities.”

While neither Jindal nor any legislator has dared breathe the word privatization as it regards the state’s colleges and universities, at least one Jindal appointee, Board of Regents Chairman Roy Martin of Alexandria, has broached the subject, speaking he said, strictly as an individual. http://theadvocate.com/news/11716059-123/regents-look-at-privatizing-public

The slashing of higher education budgets appears to be a pattern as governors attempt to wean colleges and universities from dependence on state funding, transitioning their status from state-supported to state-assisted to state-located. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/02/27/scott-walker-bobby-jindal-aim-to-slash-higher-ed-funding

Privatization of state colleges and universities would, of course, push tuition rates even higher, making a college education cost prohibitive for many. But that dovetails nicely with the ALEC agenda as income disparity continues to widen with ever more generous tax laws that benefit the super-rich while placing growing burdens on lower-income taxpayers. By winnowing out those who can least afford college, privatization necessarily enhances the selection process to serve the elite and at the same time, opens up additional revenue opportunities for those in position to take advantage of privatized services such as book stores, printing, food services, and general maintenance. http://gse.buffalo.edu/FAS/Johnston/privatization.html

There is already a backlog of nearly $2 billion in maintenance projects on state college and university campuses just waiting for some lucky entrepreneur with the right connections.


States like Louisiana, by such actions as simply increasing our cigarette tax (third lowest in the nation) and being less generous with corporate tax breaks and initiatives, could have reduced the size of the spending cuts or avoided them altogether. Sadly, that was not done and those looking at someone to blame cannot point the finger only at Jindal; legislators have been complicit from the beginning and must shoulder the responsibility for the present mess.

As a result, state colleges and universities have already cut staff and eliminated entire programs to such a degree that Louisiana’s high school seniors already are considering options out of state and other states are obliging. https://lahigheredconfessions.wordpress.com/

Should the legislature adopt any measures to raise revenue for higher education, such measures likely would be vetoed by Jindal if he gets the message from Norquist to do so.

If that occurs, his palpable disregard for the welfare of this state as evidenced by his growing absence will be dwarfed by the affront of taking his cue of governance from a Washington, D.C. lobbyist as opposed to listening to his constituents who want real solutions and not political grandstanding.

But that certainly would be nothing new for Bobby Jindal.

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Bobby Jindal proved Wednesday that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve and the 2016 presidential sweepstakes have taken an unanticipated new look as a result.

With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz becoming the first to officially announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, Jindal, who had said he would wait until the 2015 legislative session ended in June to make his announcement, surprised all the experts by making his own announcement today—but not, however, to be the Republican standard-bearer.

Instead, Jindal announced that he will head the newly-founded Latin language-inspired Anas Party, the seventh political party that is expected in the November 2016 election, in a dual strategy to siphon off right-wingnuts from the tea party faction as well as disaffected mainstream Republicans in an effort to “do for the nation what I have done for Louisiana.”

Jindal denied that the timing of his announcement was a result of Cruz’s formal entry into the race. “I had planned to make this announcement at this time all along,” he said. “I referenced a timeframe of the end of the session only in order to be sure all the pieces were in place. As you know, I am results-oriented and every move I make is carefully thought out so as to take all possibilities into consideration. That is what has made my two terms as governor such a success.”

Eschewing a national convention—“that’s another area where waste can be eliminated,” he said, adding that money that normally would go for that purpose would be used to hold the most lavish and ostentatious inauguration in the nation’s history—Jindal announced that Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols will be his vice presidential running mate.

Going even further, he named several current aides and associates whom he said he will appoint as cabinet members and department heads when elected. Heading up his cabinet will be Secretary of Morality Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. “I realize there is no such cabinet position in existence at this time,” Jindal said, “but as I’ve said many times before, this country needs to right itself and embark on a course of morality and righteousness as determined by the only person qualified to set those standards—Phil Robertson.”

Jindal said that given his public stance on gays, women and blacks, “he is an obvious choice for Morality Secretary.”

Other appointments announced nearly two years in advance include:

  • Ruth Johnson: Secretary of Defense owing to her ability to jerk subordinates in line for the temerity of simply talking to someone not considered friendly to the administration;
  • Mike Edmonson: FBI Director because of his unflagging loyalty to Jindal and his background in law enforcement;
  • Troy Hebert: Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, for obvious reasons;
  • Stephen Waguespack: Executive Counsel, the same position he held in Baton Rouge for Jindal;
  • Timmy Teepell: Chief of Staff, likewise the same position he held previously in Jindal’s state administration;
  • Tim Barfield: Treasurer, following his tenure as head of the Louisiana Department of Revenue;
  • Stephen Moret: Secretary of Commerce, where he will continue in his efforts to lure business and industry….back to the U.S.;
  • Alan Levine, Bruce Greenstein, Kathy Kleibert: Secretary of Health and Human Services, because her record at Louisiana DHH speaks for itself;
  • Curt Eysink: Secretary of Labor based on the decimation of workers compensation claims in the state;
  • Kyle Plotkin: Press Secretary, a lateral move and closer to his New Jersey home;
  • Jimmy Faircloth: Special Counsel, in case Jindal ever gets in trouble with the House Judiciary Committee, which will be inevitable if he is elected.

“I’ve given much thoughtful prayer to this and I feel led to form a seventh party. After all, the world was created in seven days and I believe a seventh political party is symbolic of what God wants me to do,” Jindal said.

“In that same vein, I have formed seven separate super PACs through which illicit, illegal and immoral campaign funds may be funneled in order to protect the identities of my supporters,” he added. “In today’s political atmosphere, it’s critical that there be a sufficient number of super PACs to support a candidate’s efforts. There are those who would prefer that their names not be put out there for the public but who nonetheless wish to support my candidacy. The super PACs provide an avenue for them to do just that.”

As President, Jindal said he “will continue to implement the same programs nationally that I have in Louisiana. I am leaving Louisiana better than I found it. Three things:

  • “I have downsized government by reducing the number of state employees by 400,000; “Louisianans are earning more than anyone else in any other state;
  • I’ve created two million new jobs through incentives and tax exemptions;
  • “Our highways and bridges are in the best of shape;
  • “Our colleges and universities are funded at a higher level than at any time in Louisiana history;
  • “Our elementary and secondary school students have the highest scores in the nation;
  • “The bond rating agencies have bestowed the highest ratings on Louisiana;
  • “Our health care takes a back seat to no one, thanks to our wise decision to privatize state hospitals;
  • “I have given the state balanced budgets in each year of my term.

“Going forward, I am prepared and equipped to deal with radical Islam by cutting social programs, education and health care in order to quadruple the Pentagon’s budget. There will be no “no-go” zones in my presidency—except in New Orleans and certain parts of Baton Rouge and Shreveport. Obamacare will be but a distant memory and Americans can be proud of the fact that they will be masters of their own medical fate and not dependent upon federal giveaway programs fraught with corruption, fraud and waste. I will reduce the number of federal employees by 135 million, just as I did in Louisiana while getting the country moving in the right direction—again, as I did in Louisiana.”

For the remainder of his term as governor, Jindal said he will turn the House chamber on the State Capitol’s first floor into a full gospel church, complete with faith healing and exorcisms. “The chamber is never used except for three months a year during the legislative session,” he said. “If we fill the House chamber, we can move a spillover service into the Senate chamber. We will turn the governor’s mansion into a parsonage for visiting preachers because I’m never there anyway.”

Where Ted Cruz used Liberty College as his launching pad for the Republican nomination, Jindal said he will draw heavily on support from the American Family Association (AFA) in Tupelo, Mississippi, and from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

“We’re excited about the coming months of this campaign,” he said. “We feel that between Fox News, AFA, Westboro Baptist, and Duck Dynasty, we will sweep all the lunatic fringe crumbs off the table and onto our lap. It’s a great time to be doing what divine inspiration has called upon me to do for America.”

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By Stephen Winham (Special to LouisianaVoice)

I became the state budget director in 1988.  Because we had consistently spent more than we had taken in since 1984, we faced a $1 Billion dollar budget and cash flow hole in a budget less than half the size of today’s.  We literally did not have the money to pay our day-to-day bills and, like too many of our citizens, had to hold off paying them until we had the cash.  We were flat busted.

In an effort to ensure this never happened again, we enacted a comprehensive package of budget reforms, including establishing  an official revenue forecast; prohibiting the use of one-time money for recurring expenses; requiring a balanced budget from initial presentation through enactment  and to be maintained throughout the year; providing that any interfund borrowing (the mechanism that enabled us to go totally broke in 1988) had to be repaid by the end of the year in which it was borrowed, and many others.

To address the immediate emergency, we took the unprecedented step of creating a special taxing district that issued bonds we paid back over 10 years by dedicating one cent of our sales tax to debt service.

We began to diversify our economic revenue base.  For example, we went from a 40% reliance on mineral revenues to a less than 10% reliance on them today.  We raised other taxes, including, most notably, sales taxes.

We took full advantage of a federal Medicaid program paying high rates to facilities serving a disproportionate share of poor people (we made an annual “profit” of $700 million from this program during its peak).

We enacted the lottery, riverboat, and land-based casino gambling.

All of these kept us going until 1995 when our economy finally began to perform really well and did so through 1998.  Our economy slowed down in 1999 and it was necessary to pass more taxes.

In 2002, the legislature passed, and the state’s voters approved a plan by Representative Vic Stelly that substituted increases in income taxes for 4 cents of sales taxes on food and utilities and placed these exemptions, along with those on pharmaceuticals, in the state constitution.  The reason:  Because sales taxes are regressive and because income taxes generally respond better to our economy than sales taxes.  In my opinion, and that of many others, the Stelly Plan was the best fiscal legislation passed in our history.

We were doing pretty well until 2005 when Katrina struck.  Ironically, recovery from Katrina fueled our economy to the point that by the time Governor Jindal took office in 2007, we had a $1.1 Billion surplus.  Governor Blanco’s last proposed budget was $29.2 billion, of which over $8.0 billion was disaster relief money.  The legislature enacted a $32 Billion budget that year, including the $8.0 billion in non-recurring money.

So, what happened?

Well, remember those laws we passed to ensure we engaged in sound budgetary practices?  We began to ignore them and we spent the $1.1 Billion surplus and every other pot of one-time money we could find.  We repealed HALF, NOT ALL, of Stelly – the income tax increases that would be generating about what we lose in the sales tax exemptions still on the books today -about $700 million.

We cut corporate taxes in half – by a cool Billion.

We pretended we had a balanced budget every year, but using common sense and the letter of the laws we enacted, it is clear we, in fact, DID NOT.  And, although cuts were made – state funding to higher education, as one example, has been cut by $500 million – we NEVER made the cuts necessary to balance recurring spending with recurring revenue.  Why?  According to Kristy Nichols, Commissioner of Administration, as quoted in 2013, doing so would result in “needless reductions to critical services.”  WHAT?  Are you saying you didn’t cut the budget because you couldn’t?  Or, are you for cutting the budget, but you really don’t want to do so?

Governor Jindal continues to be widely quoted, to this day, saying we need to live within our means.  If that is true, why does he not present budgets that do so?  As long as projected revenues from reliable, stable sources do not equal projected necessary expenditures, we will NEVER have a balanced budget.

Could anything possibly be simpler, or make more sense, than balancing what you plan to spend with what is coming in so you don’t dig a hole for yourself?

It is certainly easy to understand why it is difficult to make hard cuts when cash is, or even may be available, but willfully allowing gross fiscal instability to continue indefinitely is a violation of the public trust and ultimately leads to wasteful spending and the inability to see true inefficiencies because the fiscal house is always on fire.  It is beyond time we were presented with an honest budget on which to make honest decisions.

So, you might rightly ask, “How would you fill the $1.6 Billion hole we read about every day in the papers?”

There are an almost infinite number of ways to do so.  Here’s one:

$1.600 reported gap

($0.160): Don’t Fund Inflation and other continuation costs. We rarely do, anyhow.

($0.180): Make cuts pursuant to consultant “efficiency” recommendations. We ought to get something for the $7 million we blew on this contract.

($0.100): Increase tobacco tax to the southern average

($0.700): Restore the income tax provisions of the Stelly Plan

($0.149): Eliminate the refundable tax credits proposed by the governor, except the inventory credit.

($0.100): Cap film tax credits at $150 million

($0.200): Eliminate exemption from severance taxes on horizontal wells. This was new technology when the exemption was granted. It certainly isn’t now, so no incentive is needed.

($0.011): A rounding figure, based on the Executive Budget. Or do $11 million of the $415 million in strategic cuts recommended by the governor – or, dozens of other possibilities.

$0.000 Remaining Problem.

Too simple, right?   And, perhaps, other holes could be poked in my scenario as well, but it proves it is possible to take a pragmatic approach, combining cuts with a limited number of revenue measures for a relatively simple solution.  We often make things a lot more complicated than they are.  I am convinced our government leaders often make simple things complicated in hope citizens won’t know and question what’s going on.

Regardless of what happens we must have an honest budget. If balancing recurring expenses with recurring revenues means making draconian cuts, so be it. Because they have been misled repeatedly, the bulk of our citizens will never believe we have a problem (or one that can’t simply be solved with cuts) until they experience the reality of a true “reform” budget that raises no revenues and cuts services to achieve balance. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that, but it may be the only path to real reform.

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“They’re still negotiating with the terrorists.”

That gem, said in a private email to LouisianaVoice, came from a blogger who is relative new on the scene but who is very perceptive about what the Bobby administration is trying to do to higher education. https://lahigheredconfessions.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/open-letter-to-higher-education-leaders-the-time-for-negotiating-is-over/

A two-page letter today (Feb. 26) from five higher education leaders lobbed fluffy white marshmallows at Gov. Bobby and an anticipated $400 million (or more) cut to the state’s public colleges and universities. Joint Higher Education Letter 2-26-15

The letter was signed by LSU President F. King Alexander, Southern University System President Ronald Mason, Jr., Louisiana Community & Technical College System President Monty Sullivan, University of Louisiana System President Sandra K. Woodley, and Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo.

Rather than digging their collective heels in and shouting “Enough!” the higher education officials attempted to appeal to Gov. Bobby’s well concealed humanitarian instincts which has about as much chance as the proverbial snowball.

The letter comes about as close as possible to the prediction of one of our readers who said the college presidents in the end would thank Gov. Bobby for not cutting them more.

The letter began, predictably, with the education officials thanking Gov. Bobby “for your support during last year’s legislative session and the creation of the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund,” calling it an “unprecedented statewide collaboration across higher education.”

The pandering continued when the letter practically pleaded with Gov. Bobby to not lose “the momentum that began last year to raise the level of educational attainment in Louisiana.”

Have these educational leaders lost their collective minds? Have they forgotten that this governor’s policies of lavishing tax exemptions and incentives on corporations like Wal-Mart, chicken plucking plants and other corporations that offer little in the way of gainful employment are directly responsible for the fiscal mess we find ourselves in today?

And while Gov. Bobby did eventually support the move, it was the legislature that repealed the Stelly Plan, one of the most progressive tax programs in the history of this state, so we’re not giving lawmakers a pass on this.

“The need for college graduates, particularly in high demand fields such as engineering, computer science, business and industrial trades, is fundamental to meeting workforce goals and ensuring Louisiana graduates are prepared to reap the economic benefits Louisiana has realized,” the shameless communication said.

“Economic benefits Louisiana has realized”? Give us a freaking break! The only economic benefits realized by this state has been realized by Gov. Bobby’s campaign contributors. Why don’t these higher education officials just go on and kiss Gov. Bobby’s ring (yeah, we cleaned that up) and get it over with?

“Commissioner (of Administration) Kristy Nichols has informed us of the impending budget shortfall and the funding impacts on higher education,” the letter continued. “We want to partner with you and our legislative leaders to craft both a short-term approach to address the immediate budget shortfall and offer long-term recommendations that fundamentally change the higher education funding model. In both instances, budget stability is the overarching goal,” it said.

First of all, the use of the word “partner” scares the hell out of us. The last time “partner” was used by this administration, it gave away an entire system of public hospitals that resulted in such an overbearing spillover to Baton Rouge General Mid-City that it is closing its emergency room, thus making it even more difficult for the poor in north Baton Rouge to obtain needed medical care.

“In the long term, higher education is requesting budget stability and increasing state supported investments in higher education,” the letter said.

“The economic stability of Louisiana hinges on our collective ability to find both a short-term solution in the budget for next year and a long-term solution to sustain and increase investments in Louisiana’s higher education system.”

If the economic stability of Louisiana hinges on the ability of this administration, we’re in for a long, hard winter of economic—and intellectual—instability.

In addition to sending the letter to Gov. Bobby, copies also were sent to Gov. Bobby’s various lap dogs in the House and Senate where it will be promptly ignored as legislators turn their attention to getting re-elected while dealing with a $1.6 billion distraction.

To paraphrase H. Ross Perot, “That giant sucking sound you hear is Louisiana college-bound students headed out of state.”

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