Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Legislature, Legislators’ 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.

Read Full Post »

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…

 

Read Full Post »

        Because we are working frantically to meet the deadline for publication of our book about Bobby Jindal, we have scaled back on the frequency of posts for LouisianaVoice. Instead, we are relying heavily on several guest columnists. The following post was written by Michael Kurt Corbello, Ph.D.

         He is an associate professor of political science at Southeastern Louisiana University where he has taught since 1987. From 1991 to 2011, he was the founding director of the Southeastern Poll. He teaches courses in American politics, research methods and statistics, polling and public opinion, Louisiana politics, the Louisiana Legislature in Session, political parties, environmental policy, American foreign policy and European politics. Since 2004, he has run a three-week summer study abroad program for SLU in Salzburg, Austria.

         He has volunteered the following column from his own political blog, Dr. Kurt Corbello on Politics:

 

By Dr. Michael Kurt Corbello (special to LouisianaVoice)

In the current battle in the Louisiana legislature over how to fully fund public higher education while not raising the ire of the Jindal/Norquist anti-tax axis, it is heartening to witness comments by leaders in the business community drawing a direct connection between business opportunity and broad, affordable access to higher education. Still, politicians and ideologues in Louisiana often show an openness to diminishing, if not destroying, the great strides made in Louisiana to increase access to higher education. Frequently, this tendency to limit access is born out of well-intentioned ignorance, as in October 2009, when Louisiana House Speaker Jim Tucker called for a study to explore closing some of the public college “facilities on every corner” of the state.

At other times, calls to reduce the number of public secondary education institutions are clearly born out of malice and deceit. Recently, a rabidly ideological blogger rallied the bandwagon to eliminate a few colleges and universities in Louisiana, arguing that our “14” public four-year institutions are too many to serve a population of 4.6 million. According to the blogger, Louisiana should take a lesson from the “12” public colleges and universities serving the “four times” more populous state of Florida. The implication is that public post-secondary institutions in Louisiana do not carry a heavy enough burden in serving the state’s population to justify having “so many” institutions.

Of course, we’ve heard these arguments before, repeated enough that they are widely accepted as true. Yet, it does not take a tremendous effort to discover that the basic assumptions behind the “downsizing argument” in Louisiana are false! Perhaps it is a bit petty to suggest that higher education policy “thinkers” get their facts straight (Louisiana has 17 public four-year colleges and universities, while Florida has 39), but while we’re at it lets look at the “counterintuitive” side of the debate: that Louisiana’s public system of higher education isn’t just grossly underfunded to the point of bankruptcy, it is overburdened, should be expanded and should be returned to a level of affordability for the average family in this state!

As a point of public disclosure, the reader should know that I am a Louisiana-born, raised, and public-educated political science professor with a nearly thirty-year career at one of the state’s four-year universities. This is to say that I have a bias, but it is one based upon experience and data, not upon ideological deceit, intellectual sloppiness, and a lack of transparency! First, I alter some basic assumptions about the structure of higher education in Louisiana.

My view is that post-secondary education should be thought of as a system with many interdependent parts, public and private, large and small, four-year and two-year, general and specialized, each serving different needs and communities in order to serve the state as a whole. Further, I argue that a good and basic way to measure the burden on the system within each state is to divide the state population by the state’s total number of post-secondary institutions. I used Census data and information available from the U. S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics to compare the population burden upon the higher education systems for each of the fifty states, plus Washington, D.C.  Data on State Populations and Institutions of Higher Education as of 2010 to 2015

Nationwide there are 718 public four-year colleges and universities (avg. 14), 1705 private four-year institutions (avg. 33), 1173 public community colleges (avg. 23), and 284 private community colleges (avg. 6), for a total of 3814 post-secondary institutions (avg. 75). Yet, not all states are the same! Louisiana has 17 public 4-year colleges and universities (rank=11th), 12 private four-year institutions (rank=34th), 16 public community colleges (rank=27th), and 6 private community colleges (rank=12th), for a total of 51 post-secondary institutions (rank=28th). Since critics like (and misstate) the comparison, Florida has 39 public four-year colleges and universities (rank=4th), 79 private four-year institutions (rank=6th), 63 public community colleges (rank=3rd), and 12 private community colleges (rank=8th), for a total of 193 post-secondary institutions (rank=4th).

Combining all public and private four-year colleges and universities yields a different set of results. The national average is 48 institutions per state (New York, 215; California, 200; Pennsylvania, 155; Florida, 118; Texas, 109; Ohio, 108; Massachusetts, 98; Illinois, 97; Michigan, 83). Louisiana (29) and most of the remaining states of the South have a range six to 66 public and private four-year colleges and universities per state.

But the picture of higher education in the United States, Louisiana, and the South would not be complete without considering the impact of the 1,457 public and private community colleges across the country. Nationwide, the average number of these institutions per state nationwide is 39. California has 133, Texas 83, New York 79, Florida 75, Ohio 69, North Carolina 67, and Pennsylvania 63. In the South, there are 540 public and private community colleges, with an average of 32 per state. While Louisiana ranks a low 11th with 22, the range is from a low of 2 in D.C. to a high of 83 in Texas.

In all, there are 3,814 public and private post-secondary institutions across the United States, and each of them plays a critical role in educating a valuable constituency; you, me, our children, and those yet to breathe the air of curiosity and creativity. The question is, does Louisiana have a glut of higher education institutions? The best available data clearly shows that Louisiana doesn’t have enough post-secondary institutions, particularly community colleges that can provide access for people in more remote areas, as well as to individuals not ready for urban four-year institutions! Here is why!

Nationwide, Louisiana ranks 25th in population size and 26th in the percentage of urban population. These are factors that help to define economic activity in a state, the training required of its workforce, and the distribution of educational facilities. In addition, Louisiana is 28th in the total number of post-secondary institutions. Yet, Louisiana ranks 12th (91,170) in population per post-secondary institution. Again, I see this as a measure of the burden on the state’s higher education system.

Comparing Louisiana among the 17 states of the South is even more telling. Louisiana ranks 10th in population size (4,649,676), 8th in the percentage of urban population, 12th in the total number of colleges (51), but 6th in population per institution (91,170) per state. Only Texas (140,401), Maryland (117,184), Florida (103,074), Georgia (99,974), and Virginia (99,122) impose somewhat heavier burdens on their higher education systems than does Louisiana. But each of these states has made a commitment to higher learning that continually fails to gain traction in the morass of Louisiana politics. Nationally, 77% of states are less burdensome to their higher education systems than is Louisiana. In the South, Louisiana’s higher education system is more heavily burdened than systems in 65% of all other states.

Talk of closing public colleges and universities in Louisiana raises the question of access. Critics argue that public institutions “crowd out” potential private ones that would fill any vacuum created in their absence. Yet, public post-secondary institutions exist precisely because private institutions are unaffordable and inaccessible. The argument in favor of creating a vacuum in public higher education is a fraudulent one.

The average college student at a public institution in Louisiana is struggling to fulfill dreams. Tuition and books are increasing in costs, and so are debts for attending college. Most students have little money, even though they often work one, two or three jobs. Many have families. Most are able to go to college because they can drive to one within 30 miles of their families, children, and jobs. Closing public colleges and universities negatively alters the logistics and deprives them, and us, of the promise of a better life!

There is no genius in taking an ax to a budget. There is no brilliance in talking fast and saying nothing. There is no fiscal responsibility in refusing to pay the state’s bills in a way that is prudent. Previous state leaders grappled with Hurricane Katrina and left a $1 billion surplus that the current crop depleted in the blink of an eye. Tax cuts did not generate magic, as they never do. More pockets of “surplus” money had to be found and depleted. The once dependable “Charity Hospital” system is gone, sold off to the highest bidders, its replacement over budget, in legal limbo, and leaving thousands without care.

Post Katrina, bright, young, and talented college faculty came to Louisiana, especially to the University of New Orleans, wide-eyed and full of energy to build a life and a career in an exotic new frontier. Then we began hearing the smart-ass mantra, “Do more with less!” In response, these new creative souls did more with more by leaving the state, in the case of UNO, destroying its brand and making its future more troubled than Katrina ever did.

It is mind-boggling that anyone can think that it is good for business when we refuse to pay our bills and rip the heart right out of our future! We need responsible budgeting and more tax revenue! That is how government pays its bills. It is also how we take care of the multitude of things that, large, medium, or small, add up to a quality of life to be envied!

In the end, the now recurring crisis of higher education in Louisiana is a manufactured crisis. It is a crisis, the prevailing solutions to which run counter to “common” sense. After the players change, it will take us at least a generation and many hundreds of millions of dollars to reverse the damage done by this generation of “leaders.” The alternative is a state cannibalizing itself into unspeakable backwardness.

Without courage and resistance in the State Legislature, the current crop of leaders will continue to destroy what others in Louisiana took generations to build. Thankfully for us and for them, it is wanton destruction that they will never be around to “fix.” Where higher education is concerned, closing public institutions, or privatizing them, alters the mission and leaves people without access!

 

Read Full Post »

Twenty-four hours of reflection and some well-chosen observations from retired State Budget Director Stephen Winham have us now considering the possibility that the letter from those 11 Republican Louisiana House members seeking advice on the controversial SAVE bill may not have been so much a capitulation to Grover Norquist as it was a set up that left Bobby Jindal looking like the fool he is on the eve of his formal entry into the GOP presidential sweepstakes.

And that classic no-response response by Norquist only adds to the speculation that the whole thing was a devilishly clever trap designed to ensnare Jindal in his own web of deceit and rigid demagoguery.

If that indeed was the purpose of the letter, we at LouisianaVoice have more than a little egg on our faces and an apology to the 11 legislators on our lips because, quite frankly (and there is no spin we can put on this) we were taken in as were most of us who read the letter for the first time.

Unlike traditional media, we do not bury our “clarifications” in some obscure part of our publication with a two- or three-sentence acknowledgement of the error; we put it out there for all to see.

We’re still not certain that the letter was written with the intent of putting Jindal in a box from which there was no graceful exit as opposed to the first blush appearance of pathetic groveling, but it’s sure beginning to look that way. And if that is what it was, we can only add, Touché.

The only thing that gives us pause is the fact that four members of the Ways and Means Committee who signed the letter—Cameron Henry of Metairie, Kirk Talbot of River Ridge, Joe Harrison of Gray, and John Schroder of Covington—also signed Norquist’s “no tax” pledge.

Moreover, five of the 11 (Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, Harrison, Henry, Schroder and Talbot are either current or former members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the national non-profit organization funded by some of America’s largest corporations, including Wal-Mart, major oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies and Koch Industries.

But perhaps the biggest indication that the letter was an elaborate ruse, and one we did not initially consider, is simply this: Why would the committee release the letter—and Norquist’s response—to the media unless it was just that: a scheme to back Jindal into a corner? It would be too convenient to say the letter was simply leaked; it’s more likely now, considering the meek response by Norquist, that it was spoon-fed to the media with the express purpose of embarrassing Jindal.

“I have read and re-read the letter,” said Winham in an email to LouisianaVoice, “and I still see it as a direct hit on Norquist and Jindal and that it serves as an official record of opposition  to SAVE and to Grover Norquist and to Bobby Jindal.

“I also agree that, in addition to its (SAVE’s) utter stupidity, it would establish a horrible precedent that (says) pure gimmicks suffice to do anything with taxes,” he said. “I am not anti-tax and (I) believe anybody ought to have sense enough to know which services we need and that they have to be paid for. I am not for using totally idiotic loopholes as a means to pass taxes and then pretend you didn’t.”

Winham said that had he been a legislator, “I would have signed that sucker” with the view of telling Grover where he could stick it and with the admonition to “leave us alone.”

Winham is not alone in concocting his theory, not by a long shot. Sharing his views were superb Baton Rouge Advocate political columnist Stephanie Grace who has recently been taking Jindal to task on his budget proposals and his silly presidential run.

In her Tuesday column, she said the letter makes a lot of sense on a number of levels—mostly because it puts the ball squarely in Norquist’s and Jindal’s corner.

http://theadvocate.com/columnists/12585102-123/stephanie-grace-saving-save-a#comments

Another is a blogger known only as Skydancer. In her most recent post, she pours the metaphorical gasoline on the fire that is quickly bringing to a boil the hot water that Jindal finds himself in only days before his (yawn) announcement that he is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Skydancer notes that Rep. Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in the letter that the bill, if enacted, “would successfully and irreparably establish the precedent that future legislatures and governors can raise taxes on a nearly unlimited basis and then claim revenue neutrality solely based on the creation of a purely fictional, procedural phantom paper tax credit.” http://skydancingblog.com/2015/06/08/monday-reads-take-our-governor-please/

But the most important endorsement of Winham’s theory comes from none other than Norquist himself. The leader of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), Norquist initiated the infamous “no tax” pledge that a couple of dozen Louisiana lawmakers signed off on, including those four Ways and Means Committee members.

So, what was the response to the letter by Norquist? He punted. “ATR is agnostic as to whether a credit or deduction is good policy. We merely call balls and strikes regarding whether a change in tax law results in a net tax increase,” he wrote back. “ATR does not support or oppose the SAVE Act. While the SAVE Act does include a credit that can be used to offset other tax increases, there are other ways to achieve revenue neutrality, such as by repealing the corporate franchise tax and/or cutting the state income tax. If you don’t like the SAVE Act, why not find other offsetting tax cuts that are more to your liking?” he added.

Obviously, that response is significant.

First, it gives the Ways and Means Committee all the ammunition it needs to kill the SAVE bill and for the Legislature to move forward in the final week of the 2015 session in passing a budget that will almost certainly be vetoed by Jindal.

Second, it sets up a confrontation that could result in just the third override of a governor’s veto in Louisiana history.

That will look great on Jindal’s resumé when he makes his official announcement in New Orleans on June 24.

 

[TA1]

Read Full Post »

“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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,898 other followers

%d bloggers like this: