Friday, 10 April 2015 18:11

How Louisiana budget was lost, Jindal guns at NRA fab; Boustany picked

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Having received significant national recognition related to his stance on religious freedom, including his backing a controversial Louisiana bill on the issue recently filed for the upcoming legislative session, Jindal is linking guns with religion.

This from the Wall Street Journal today

In a speech to the National Rifle Association later today, the Louisiana governor is expected to link efforts to fight so-called religious freedom measures in Indiana and Arkansas with other, unrelated attempts to restrict gun ownership in the U.S.

“If these large forces can conspire to crush the First Amendment, it won’t be long before they come after the Second Amendment,” Mr. Jindal is expected to tell a group of NRA members here in Nashville this afternoon, according to early excerpts of his remarks.



The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has released an in-depth examination of the state's budget crisis. PAR's Guide to the State Budget Crisis examines the fiscal condition of the state, including the historical factors that lead us to the current situation. Louisiana is facing its toughest state budget challenge since the 1980s oil industry depression. Required by law to construct a balanced budget, the Legislature is seeking ways to close a $1.6 billion gap between expected general fund revenue and the initial estimate for spending in the 2016 fiscal year. This report reviews the decisions and circumstances that created Louisiana's chronic and compounding budget sustain-ability problem. It serves as an educational primer on state budgeting and it investigates the familiar as well as the obscure but critical elements of state taxing and spending.

The wide-ranging report covers many content areas including healthcare, higher education, transportation, and state support of local government, among others. There are also a series of in-depth sections. The section on the state pension systems shows that this is not some future crisis in waiting, but is already having a substantial impact on the budget. The section that reviews dedicated funding demonstrates that while fixes can be made, change is not as straight forward as some might think. This report also contains an analysis of the state's tax exemptions including a special section devoted to tax on inventory. The inventory tax section examines the nature and history of this peculiar tax structure and reviews the various proposed solutions.

"This report is designed to serve citizens as an owner's manual to the budget," notes PAR President Robert Scott. "The $1.6 billion budget shortfall has rightfully caused a great deal of concern and interest. This will help people navigate the often complex fiscal waters. Our hope is that readers will come away with a different, more informed perspective on the budget issues facing the state."

To simply access the report,  click here.


Legislation filed by state Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, is aimed at relieving school systems’ shortage of qualified substitute teachers and helping retired teachers supplement their income.

            “This is for the students,” LeBas said. “It’s best for students to have qualified teachers everywhere,” but current law limits how much time retired teachers can spend in classrooms without affecting their retirement income.

            LeBas’ House Bill 43 seeks to increase the number of days retired teachers can work as substitute teachers without decreasing the size of their retirement checks.

            Former teachers collecting benefits through the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana are prohibited from continuing to receive retirement pay if they return to fulltime teaching. Current law allows them to work as substitute teachers and collect salaries up to 25 percent of their retirement checks, but any pay above that amount results in an equivalent reduction in retirement benefits.

            HB43 would raise the salary cap to 50 percent of benefits, so a teacher who’s eligible to teach 50 days would be able to teach 100 days as a substitute without affecting retirement pay.

            “School board members and superintendents have expressed interest in this because they can’t find qualified teachers to substitute when a regular teacher is out of the classroom,” LeBas said.  "Also, many retired teachers have approached me wanting to be substitute teachers.

            “Everyone is saying they have a problem. The whole idea is to offer our students the best possible education,” he said.

            Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said school systems are having “big problems” finding qualified teachers to work as substitutes, especially when a regular teacher is taking extended medical leave, maternity leave or sabbatical.

            Because of the salary limitation, substitutes often can work only short-term and “We want to make sure that when a classroom teacher (takes leave), students are not having to change teachers three or four times because they’re reaching the salary cap,” Meaux said.

            “If we have to hire substitute teachers, why not have the best teachers for our students?” LeBas asks.

            HB43 is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee.

        The 2015 legislative session begins at noon Monday and must conclude no later than 6 p.m. June 11.


Today we covered potential budget impacts broken down by university. #lalege

— Dr. Sandra Woodley (@ULSPrez) April 10, 2015

At 2: 10 Republican presidential hopefuls speaking at today's @NRA Leadership Forum in Nashville. Live stream: #WMUR

— WMUR TV (@WMUR9) April 10, 2015

News: @RepBoustany will deliver the weekly #GOP address #4jobs: #TaxDay

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) April 10, 2015
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