Today, two announcements have hit the wires which indicate that a sense of optimism could be coming.
First, a press release measuing $1.49 billion in good news. The second is a statement by Governor John Bel Edwards promoting economic growth this first quarter of 2018 in GDP.
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that his request for a third extension of the federal temporary housing program for survivors of the August 2016 floods has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through. Gov. Edwards requested that homeowners be given additional time and the low rent for the Mobile Housing Units (MHUs) be retained as survivors rebuild their homes that were either severely damaged or destroyed by the floods. The incremental rent increases on the MHUs remains in place. FEMA has confirmed this will be the final extension to the program.
Today, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced $60 million in new coastal projects to be built and paid for with funds from the settlement of the Deepwater Horizon, BP Oil Spill.
In the same week that CNBC ranked Texas as the state with the best economy in the nation, Bankrate listed Louisiana as the 4th worst state in the nation to retire. Analyst Taylor Tepper cited the state’s “very high crime,” as one of the reasons for the poor ranking. This makes sense because retirees usually do not want to move to a state where they will be robbed or murdered.
How is Louisiana's economy doing now that the oil prices have improved, especially since Louisiana is so dependent upon that industry? There have been reports about a poor Louisiana economy, so is it fair to blame the current governor, John Bel Edwards? Is the United States losing the manufacturing battle against the world as President Donald Trump has been claiming?
Finally, after three special sessions and a regular one, it's time to relax, do the things that hard-working legislators (and governors) long to do after a long grueling hard-fought battle over the budget--pick up the pieces of one's life and, if at all possible, spend quality time with family, check out those hires burning at the office and hopefully take a moment of leisure.
The fiscal cliff, that seemingly insurmountable object in front of every legislative session since Bobby Jindal took his shot at taming the budget, is fixed. Yes, fixed. At least, on paper and hopefully, in reality, until perhaps, the next mid-decade.
The Louisiana legislators and governor, who have spent almost every day in session since mid-February of this year, have settled upon a budget deal that reduces the sales tax from five cents to 4.45 cents. Today, The Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges, who has been there with the legislators as each tick has tocked on the capitol clock, took a few moments to discuss with me--the session and the budget agreement. The interview occured via Facebook and Twitter Live.
Below is the video transcript of the relevant portions of the interview with Bridges, who will also soon post a "behind the budget deal scene" article for The Advocate.
According to a tweet by Times Picayune capitol bureau reporter Julia O'Donoghue, who knows, there might be some type of compromise in the legislature during the special session. The reporter indicated today that the "Talk is that the new sales tax rate that they will be trying to pass in the House is a 4.45 sales tax rate. That's between the 4.4 sales tax rate the House GOP wanted and the 4.5 sales tax rate".
Is there some way that Louisiana can gets its budgetary house in order? What is the problem? Did it begin under current Governor John Bel Edwards? Is Medicaid the culprit? Can we reform higher ed?
On Tuesday, I discussed the budget with former State Representative Brett Geymann, a budget hawk, who was term-limited and who left the legislature after the 2015 election. Geymann believes that the state budget should be tied to the economy and we will publish his thoughts on this tomorrow, as we went more into detail on that issue in the latter part of the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Live discussion.
Respectful and refreshing.
Those are the words that came to my mind after discussing the Louisiana budget issues with former conservative Republican House of Representative Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, this morning via Bayoubuzz’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Live.
Today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards delivered this statement to the legislature as the 3rd fiscal session of the year commenced to fix the budget:
As prepared for delivery: