Rationalization does not solve problems Tuesday, Aug 18 2015 

sanitarytruck

Don’t fall for political rhetoric.

After Friday’s Revenue Estimating Conference meeting, Senate President John Alario tried to put a happy face on the bad news about the price of a barrel of oil dropping precipitously below where it was previously estimated.   If it hold true, estimated state revenues may have to be reduced by as much as $240 Million.

Alario said: Lower oil prices the state’s mineral revenues, but they also could lead to a savings for consumers at the gas pump that could translate into higher retail sales. The Advocate, August 14, 2015.

However, Alario fails to take into consideration the thousands of layoffs in the “Oil Patch.”   Workers forced to live on unemployment checks, will unlikely to increase retail sales.  As such the REC failed to take into consideration of the low oil prices.

Fannin weighs in

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin also tried put a happy face on the cuts to Higher Education.

The cuts could be restored if the economy improves and leads to an increase in collections of income, sales and other taxes. At the very least, Friday’s move gives the government agencies a longer time to address the shortfall, Fannin said. Ibid.

If that is the case, why did he agree to delay addressing the impact of the drop in the price of oil?

Donahue wisdom

Then there is this statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue:

[U]se of the piecemeal financing from a tax amnesty program, state surplus and agency reserve accounts helps keep the state from having to make deep cuts to public health care services and colleges. “I think using one-time money under those circumstances is the right way to go,” Ibid.

If there was anyone thing that caused the current fiscal crisis in Louisiana it was the use of one-time funds to pay recurring expenses.

The above three leges are the most responsible for the state’s current fiscal mess.  In all likelihood, all three will be reelected this fall and returned to positions of leaderships on fiscal matters.

It’s clear none of them have learned from their mistakes of the last 7 plus years.

Fall elections

When you vote on these and other leges this fall remember what Albert Einstein said: “Significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

When your leges ask for your vote, ask the incumbents as well as the challengers and candidates for open seats, what they will do differently.  Don’t settle for platitudes;  ask for specific solutions.  At least it may cause them to think rather than rationalize.

C.B.

 

The August Surprise Monday, Aug 17 2015 

badsign

Rarely does the ineptitude of Louisiana Lege surprise me.  Friday was an exception.

Prior to and during the 2015 Regular Session many predicted the leges would pass an Operating Budget for FY16 (began July 1) that would only be fully-funded for 6 months.  That would give the Jindal Administration time to exit the Capitol and leges to get through the elections this fall without the public finding out the truth about the budget.

As fiscally-inept as they are, I assumed the leges would have no problem front-end loading a budget which, at a minimum, would survive until November when the elections are over.

Friday, we learned that instead of managing to “kick the can down the road” for 6 months, the budget didn’t even survive 6 weeks before mid-year budget cuts were required.

The Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget instituted $4.6 Million in mid-year cuts to the current budget of which, you guess it, $3.8 Million hit Higher Education.  ( See story here.)

Bleak future

This is just the beginning.  There will have to be further mid-year cuts to Higher Education after the fiscal analysts figure out how much the precipitous drop in oil prices will reduce state revenues.

Additionally, we learned the projected revenue shortfall for next year already $713 Million, despite the leges raising our taxes over $600 Million.

The moral of this story is never, ever; underestimate the ineptitude of the Louisiana Lege.

C.B.

A peek into Jindal’s inner sanctum Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

Inner Sanctum

Despite holding the title of Governor of Louisiana for over seven and a half years, we know very little about Bobby Jindal beyond his carefully-crafted public persona and well-scripted talking points.

It has been puzzling how so many high-ranking Jindal bureaucrats have been suddenly dismissed from his administration without media follow-up to give us more insight into the inner workings of the secretive Jindal Administration.  Perhaps the dearth of details is because none of those summarily dismissed were willing to talk publicly.  If so, that in and of itself seems to be news.

First glimpse

Taylor Huckaby, a former member of Team Jindal, recently wrote an op-ed piece in the Baton Rouge Advocate revealing some of the interactions between Jindal and his closest staff and among the staff.  ( See piece here.)

While the op-ed was revealing, it was not nearly as revealing as Huckaby’s subsequent interview.

Deeper glimpse

Statewide radio talk show host Jim Engster interviewed Huckaby that I found powerful.  This interview, among other things, exposed Jindal’s bigotry towards his fellow Indians as well as exposing Jindal hypocrisy about transparency in government.

If Jindal was above less than one percent in the polls for the GOP nominee for president, this interview would be on the national news.

Jim provided me with a link to the podcast of the interview.  It’s approximately 20 minutes long.  Knowing most folks are like me and don’t always have time to listen to lengthy interviews, I asked my buddy Robert Burns, who has a video blog, to break the audio down.

Here is the interview, by topic, with links to that segment of the audio:

–How Huckaby joined Jindal’s staff:   https://youtu.be/hsW2SOj5As8

–Jindal’s isolationist nature and resolve of his gatekeepers:  https://youtu.be/dwCDC5neJq4

–Jindal’s priority of national image over state and his staff’s makeover of Jindal:  https://youtu.be/k2lPZa-slfk

–Life with the Jindal administration after revealing he’s gay to key Jindal adviser Timmy Teepell:  https://youtu.be/vX7NrYCsavM

–The “fringe element” within Jindal’s inner circle:  https://youtu.be/O0BivEY5ZZo

–Whether Timmy Teepell served Jindal well and whether Taylor respects Jindal “as a person.”:  https://youtu.be/LhV2dWaEvvM

Kudos to Jim for a most revealing interview.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill

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