Tuesday, 21 August 2012 13:38

Louisiana Politics: John White, Jindal and education, LaGOP, Ed Roy, Angelle, Skrmetta

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gov-mansionEducation is a major topic of discussion in today's issue of Bayoubuz's Louisiana's politics.  Governor Jindal marked the opening of south Central Louisiana Technical College campus.  The Louisiana Department of Education is touting the various new courses that are being approved as a result of the new education policy of the state.  One course focuses upon construction and is introduced by Louisiana Builders and Contractors. 

Also, one writer opines that Governor Jindal might be Romney's choice for Secretary of Education. 



In areas outside of education, the Louisiana GOP is pushing the constitutional amendment supporting gun rights.  Candidate for Public Service Commision, Ed Roy is claiming to be responsible for his opponent's reported decision not to run for Governor but stay afixed at PSC, should Scott Angelle win the upcoming election.  

Also, one organization is praising the concept of tax reform in state government, pushing the idea of looking at eliminating certain deductions, exemptions and exceptions that result in the state constantly slicing at education and healthcare whenever a budget crunch hits.

And there's more politics...

Jindal and Technical College

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal marked the opening of the new South Central Louisiana Technical College campus development.

The campus development will serve as a new classroom building and lab facility. It will be home to healthcare, computer networking, and development studies as well as business services, student affairs and other administrative offices.    


Since 2008, the Jindal administration has appropriated and financed more than $600 million dollars in critical higher education infrastructure investments across the state. This total includes general fund and capital outlay investments, including more than $225 million for Louisiana Community and Technical College campuses. At South Central Louisiana Technical College, Governor Jindal supported $5.98 million for the construction of the new campus development.

Governor Jindal said, “When I became Governor, we made a commitment to invest in our community and technical colleges because these campuses serve as a critical pipeline that connect graduates to great jobs right here in Louisiana. Our community and technical college system will help ensure that Louisiana will have the most highly-skilled workforce in the country and will help us continue to attract companies who want to invest in Louisiana and grow our economy."

The new campus will begin serving students this week for the new school year. Later this year, a phase two renovation will update the original building to mirror the new construction.  In addition to the update, electrical and plumbing upgrades will be completed to accommodate an increase in capacity.

Ed Roy praises Angelle

Republican businessman Ed Roy is congratulating former DNR Secretary and Jindal Lobbyist Scott Angelle for accepting Ed’s pledge to serve a full six-year term on the Public Service Commission, if elected.  Roy believes Angelle’s pledge not to run for Governor prior to 2019, will allow a clearer discussion of Angelle’s tenure at DNR and his time as Chief Lobbyist for the Jindal Administration.

 “I want to congratulate Scott Angelle for stepping up to my pledge to serve the full six-year term on the Public Service Commission, and not run for Governor prior to 2019.  Now we can have a more transparent discussion of Angelle’s actions during his time at DNR, and as Chief Lobbyist for the Administration as they relate to the duties of the PSC” said Ed Roy.  “As Scott knows, the work of the Public Service Commission is at the intersection of energy, the economy and the environment.  We need the swing-vote Commissioner to be someone with a proven track record of transparency, and working with law enforcement and first responders to save lives and property” Roy said.  “ I am hopeful that Scott will soon explain his actions in the months leading up to the Assumption Sinkhole disaster, and his abrupt resignation after the declaration of a state of emergency” Roy continued.  “I am also looking forward to hearing from Scott that he is agreeing to my challenge to participate in no less than three debates for the PSC this fall.  The choice is too important for anything less” Roy concluded.

The election is Tuesday, November 6th.  More information about the Ed Roy

(Roy press release)

Louisiana education, Course choice

An array of innovative courses, including some from non-traditional providers, is among the first applications for Course Choice received by the Louisiana Department of Education.  The application period is off to a fast start with the Department receiving 24 applications from a wide variety of potential course providers in the first 24 hours.  The program, established earlier this year in Act 2, creates an education marketplace where parents can choose from a diverse range of academic and career-oriented courses that will best prepare their child for success in college and the workplace.  Believing students can achieve high expectations for learning and empowering parents with the tools to ensure their child's success are the principles of Louisiana Believes, the state's plan for continued improvement.


"Course Choice is revolutionizing the way we prepare kids for college and careers," said John White, State Superintendent of Education.  "We are working with universities and technical colleges, Louisiana businesses and virtual education providers to create new, high-quality courses aligned to what's expected in college and 21st century jobs.  The courses will  not only be rigorous, but also relevant to the world students will enter when they graduate from high school."


One of the first applicants, Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. (ABC), is offering a course that provides students with hands-on experience in learning a craft such as carpentry, welding and pipefitting.  Preparing students in school with these marketable skills will ensure they are ready to begin a high-wage career immediately after earning a high school diploma.


"ABC submitted our Course Choice application on Day 1 because we believe this will be a great way for ABC to help Louisiana kids secure high-paying jobs," said Robert Clouatre, the Director of Education at the local chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.  "ABC serves Louisiana industry by training craftspeople in the skills and the safety behaviors they need to be great employees.  The growth of Louisiana's economy depends on our state teaching our children to hold these great jobs.  With Course Choice, students can choose to use their school funding to learn hands-on skills that will help them build productive, high-paying careers.  That's exactly what we want to see them achieve.  Nothing is more rewarding to the people at ABC - and the many companies we serve - than helping Louisiana kids gain the skills they need to fill Louisiana jobs."


The St. James Career and Technology Center is also applying to be a course provider.  In addition to a state-of-the-art culinary facility where students experience first-hand what it takes to manage a kitchen in a bustling restaurant, the district is excited about other students it will be able to serve.


"We are enthusiastic about being able to train students from surrounding schools.  Our cosmetology program has several students from two other districts working toward a state cosmetology license," said Dr. Lonnie Luce, St. James Parish Superintendent of Schools.  "The district process technology program, in partnership with the technical college, has provided our students an opportunity to enter industry jobs with the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century.  We've always had the ability to serve more students.  Course Choice gives more students the choice to use their school funding to learn new, marketable skills and set themselves up for tremendous future success."


Potential providers have until October 12 to submit an application for consideration to become an approved course provider for Course Choice.  After reviewing applications and conducting interviews, the Louisiana Department of Education will submit recommendations for final approval to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in December.  A catalog of courses to be offered starting in the 2013-2014 school year will be published in January 2013.  Enrollment for these courses begins in the spring 2013, with courses starting in the fall 2013.    

Rep. Richmond's small business expo

The Small Business summit will feature panelists from federal and state agencies including officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Presentations during the Small Business Expo will include:  financing your business, marketing to a federal agency, and small business assistance programs.

Congressmen Cedric Richmond (LA-02)

Karen Kuehn, Senior Contracting Officer, Veterans Affairs

La Vida Barnes, Business Specialist, General Services Administration

Mike Bloom, Contract Specialist, Administration the Army Corps of Engineers

John Baker, Chief of Operations, The Orleans Parish Sherriff’s Office

Nathaniel Celestine, Assistant Purchasing Administrator, The City of New Orleans


Expo exhibitors include: the FDIC, U.S. Navy, US Army, GSA, NASA, Army Corps, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Dept. of Homeland Security, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Dept. of State, Dept. of Transportation, VA, Office of Personnel Management, US Census Bureau, Louisiana Economic Development, Recovery School District, Orleans Parish Sherriff’s Office, Port of New Orleans, Tulane University, AT&T, Entergy, and Clark/McCarthy.


When: August 22-23, 2012

Small Business Summit: August 22 5:30-9:00 pm CST

Small Business Expo: August 23 9:00 am- 4:00 pm CST

Where: Delgado Community College

615 City Park Avenue

New Orleans, LA 70119

 Revenue Study

BCBL Letter to Revenue Study Commission Members

August 21, 2012


Dear Revenue Study Commission Members:


The Better Choices for a Better Louisiana coalition is encouraged by the formation of the Revenue Study Commission, and looks forward to the long-overdue evaluation of the 468 different exclusions, exemptions, credits, refunds and other loopholes in Louisiana’s tax code. As the state faces another year of cuts to health care, higher education and other critical investments, there has never been a more important time to re-evaluate the $4.8 billion in annual tax expenditures, with an eye toward growing Louisiana’s eroding revenue base in an equitable manner.


As the committee does its work in the months ahead, it is likely to discover that some tax expenditures are working as intended, while others are antiquated and in need of reform or repeal.


For these evaluations to have true value to policymakers, they need to be based, as much as possible, on a set of objective criteria.  To that extent, we recommend that each tax exemption be judged on the following metrics:


1)       Is it broad-based? Tax breaks that are narrowly tailored to a specific interest group or that are claimed by a small number of beneficiaries should be viewed with more skepticism than exemptions that benefit a broad class of people. For example, the sales tax exclusion on raw agricultural products should be viewed differently than the exclusion for “specialty Mardi Gras items sold by certain organizations.” Similarly, some tax credits accrue almost exclusively to a small group of filers.


One example is the research & development tax credit, 94 percent of which was claimed by just five entities.


2)       Do neighboring states have similar exemptions? Tax breaks that are designed to keep Louisiana competitive with other Southern states might have more merit than tax code loopholes that are unique to Louisiana.


3)       Is it transparent? As the Public Affairs Research Council noted earlier this summer, hundreds of sales-tax exemptions are lumped together under a single category, “other exemptions,” leaving the public with no understanding of how much individual exemptions are costing Louisiana. Without such basic facts, neither the commission nor the public can make informed decisions about whether a tax break is performing adequately.


4)       What is the state’s return on investment? State law does not require agencies that administer tax credits to track their return on investment. But taxpayers deserve to know what types of jobs, if any, are being created as a result of specific tax credits, and whether the state is receiving any other benefits.


With these criteria in mind, we are hopeful that the work of the Revenue Study Commission will bring sunshine and accountability to this important policy area, and lay the groundwork for a tax system that allows Louisiana the essential revenue to meet its critical needs in health-care and education.




Mary Williams

Republican Party of Louisiana Endorses Constitutional Amendment #2

The Louisiana Republican State Central Committee has endorsed Constitutional Amendment #2, which strengthens the right of Louisiana residents to keep and bear arms.

Amendment #2, authored by Senator Neil Riser (R-Columbia) and supported by Governor Bobby Jindal, will go before Louisiana voters on November 6th on the presidential general election ballot.

“The right to keep and bear arms is essential to a free society and this amendment will make Louisiana law consistent with that of the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment,” said Bryan Jeansonne, author of the resolution and State Central Committee Member. “

If passed by the voters on November 6th, the 2nd Amendment will amend Article 1 Section 11 of Louisiana’s Constitution to read: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

“We applaud the efforts of the Governor Jindal, Senator Riser and Representative Broadwater in passing and promoting this important legislation,” said LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere. “The Republican Party of Louisiana is proud to support the 2nd Amendment and we strongly encourage Louisiana voters to vote 'yes' to Amendment #2 in November.”  

 Jindal for Education Secretary?

Below is an excerpt from a column published in the Reveille

So, if Jindal is going to be involved in the prospective Romney-Ryan administration further than he already is, it naturally fits that he be involved somewhere regarding education.

And if he hasn’t given that impression thus far, a certain trip he took the previous week certainly helps. Last Thursday, Jindal met Ryan and Bob McDonnell (another once-plausible VP pick) in Richmond for a panel discussion with the latter’s K-12 Education Reform Summit. Jindal will have plenty to contribute here, since he is the GOP’s standard-bearer on education. And don’t forget that this was probably Romney’s idea in the first place.

Romney, in picking Ryan as his running-mate, did not pick the safe or careful candidate. In fact, Romney deliberately chose the more dangerous choice for two reasons: to offset his own triteness and aridity and to galvanize the conservative base.

He has succeeded in both of these, although much more of the latter than the former. It is important to note that while most candidates are running only against the opposing party, Romney is running against his own.


PSC Skrmetta


Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta strongly defended the U.S. Court of Appeals’ split decision today vacating the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in favor of the existing Clean Air Interstate Rule of 2005. 

Skrmetta helped lead a September 7, 2011 motion that authorized the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) legal counsel to file actions to prevent the implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), also known as the “Transport Rule”.  The LPSC filed an appeal to the rule in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia circuit on October 7, 2011.  On October 11, 2011, the LPSC also filed for a motion to stay the rule which would have gone into effect January 1, 2013.

For more than a year Skrmetta has made numerous public addresses voicing his opposition to what he called “an over-reaching federal mandate.”  In a media release earlier this year, Skrmetta noted, “It’s not only a destructive energy policy that’s injurious to residential consumers, but can lead to further out-migration of jobs as goods and services employers will seek to avoid oppressive U.S. regulations.  These federal rules are only created to satisfy a political agenda of the radical environmental left to eliminate manmade carbon dioxide.”

Today’s decision by two of three federal judges sided with Louisiana and more than three dozen challengers to the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule ("CSAPR" or "Transport Rule"), which imposes caps on emissions for 28 states.  The court ordered the EPA to return to the 2005 rule, known as the Clear Air Interstate Rule ("CAIR"), until a viable replacement to the cross-state pollution rule is made.  The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals judges renders the EPA’s regulation of interstate air pollution as unlawful.  The Louisiana Public Service Commission case was a parallel case stating that the rule put undue financial burden on power producers and threatens electricity reliability by forcing some companies to shut older plants.  The rule violates the Clean Air Act, or CAA, by requiring states to reduce their emissions by more than their own significant contributions to downwind states' nonattainment of air quality standards, according to the decision.

                Said Skrmetta, “This decision will protect ratepayers from significant cost increases.  In many cases, ratepayers would likely have paid twice as much for electric power had this rule been upheld.”  The opinions of Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith vacated the rule, with Circuit Judge Judith Rogers dissenting.

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