Wallis Watkins

House Passes Budget With Deep Cuts To Department Of Health

The Louisiana House of Representatives narrowly succeeded in passing a budget with $650 million dollars in cuts. Governor John Bel Edwards says it’s a failure.

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IRS Computer Glitch Caused By 'Master File' Issue

Tuesday's tax day computer glitch at the IRS prevented the agency from accepting millions of tax returns and forced the IRS to extend the filing deadline for another day . We now have a better idea of what happened to cause the snafu. According to an IRS official, the problem arose at 4 a.m. EDT Tuesday, which was the day tax returns were due and the busiest day of the tax year for the IRS. According to the agency, a piece of hardware connected to the IRS's master file, the core processing...

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Big Charter School Push Coming to Baton Rouge

Apr 26, 2012

The Recovery School District is announcing plans for an "Achievement Zone" in north Baton Rouge where the schools have been failing for decades.

As part of that effort, New Schools for Baton Rouge will be facilitating the development of charter schools.

Before moving upriver to launch the new non-profit, Chris Meyer worked for the RSD in New Orleans, identifying which schools to turn over to charter operators there.

As he told WRKF's Amy Jeffries, Meyer is out to prove that you don't need a hurricane to make radical changes to the way schools work.


Pension Debate Pits Government vs. Government Workers

Apr 23, 2012
Alex C. Balla

Key pieces of Governor Bobby Jindal's pension reform have started to make their way through the legislature.

A bill that aims to change retirement eligibility heads to the full House tomorrow for further debate. Meanwhile, legislation to create a cash-balance plan for retirees and raise employee pension contribution by 3-percent is slated for the full Senate floor in the coming weeks.

Jeffrey Sadow is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LSU Shreveport. He is also the author of the Louisiana politics blog "Between The Lines".

Sadow spoke with WRKF's Ashley Westerman via telephone about the political dynamics at play in order to get pension reforms passed.

Audio Pending...

Coastal Communities Still Feeling Effects Of Spill

Apr 20, 2012

Two years ago today, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and causing the largest marine spill in American history.

Beyond the effects on wildlife, tourism and fishing along the Gulf Coast, the spill has had a lasting impact on the lives and relationships in communities there.

Diane Austin, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona, was part of a research team that published a report last year on those social effects. She talked with WRKF's Ashley Westerman by phone about the pervasiveness of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.


Voters Consider CATS Transit Tax

Apr 20, 2012

Baton Rouge's bus system is in crisis. The future of the Capital Area Transit system, or "CATS," will be determined in a special tax election on Saturday. As WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, the system is facing a $2.1 million deficit in a budget currently projected at $12.6 million. The tax revenue would not only close that gap, but totally overhaul the existing system, and if it doesn't pass? Proponents say the buses could shut down in July.

Voters Consider CATS Transit Tax

Apr 20, 2012

Baton Rouge's bus system is in crisis. The future of the Capital Area Transit system, or "CATS," will be determined in a special tax election on Saturday. As WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, the system is facing a $2.1 million deficit in a budget currently projected at $12.6 million. The tax revenue would not only close that gap, but totally overhaul the existing system, and if it doesn't pass? Proponents say the buses could shut down in July.

Neglected Louisiana Graveyards Face Continued Disrepair

Apr 19, 2012

Baton Rouge's historic cemeteries are part of the backdrop of everyday life here. You probably drive past them on your way home from work or see the above-ground tombs when you drop your kid off at school. But many of the state's graveyards have been beaten up by hurricanes and other natural disasters, and remain in a stunning state of disrepair. In fact, as WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, there are few resources to keep them from crumbling away.


Drop-Out Study Argues for Truancy Intervention

Apr 18, 2012

While the legislature has approved Governor Bobby Jindal's proposals for getting teachers to up their game and providing more school choice, an effort to keep some of the most at-risk kids in the classroom may be falling by the wayside.

The Truancy Assessment and Service Center, or TASC, program, addresses truancy among elementary school students, intervening early so they don't drop out later.

Administrators of TASC, which serves students from 21 parishes at 14 sites around the state, pleaded with the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week not to cut its funding.


Cecile Guin, Director of Research at the LSU School of Social Work, helped develop the program 13 years ago. She spoke with WRKF's Amy Jeffries in the studio along with LSU economist Stephen Barnes about TASC and the study they recently co-authored to bolster the argument for its preservation.

Ricky Shaffer is President of the Sherwood Forest Civic Association and past president of the Sherwood Forest Eye-Watch.
WRKF

Last week, George Zimmerman pleaded not guilty in the death of Treyvon Martin. The neighborhood watch volunteer shot and killed the unarmed black teen while patrolling his gated community in Sanford, Florida on Feb. 26.

Zimmerman's attorneys have said they will use Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground Law as his defense.

Louisiana has a similar justifiable homicide law.

Here in Baton Rouge, Ricky Shaffer heads the Sherwood Forest Civic Association in one of the city's largest neighborhoods, and is the former president of Sherwood Forest Eye-Watch.

Shaffer says he opposes the idea of watch group volunteers patrolling their neighborhoods.


East Baton Rouge Population Growth Slows to a Crawl

Apr 13, 2012

Five hundred and fifty nine -- that's the number of residents the Census estimates East Baton Rouge Parish gained between 2010 and 2011, according to newly released figures.

The total parish population, about 441,000 as of July 2010, grew just .1 percent over the year.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland asked LSU demographer and sociology professor Troy Blanchard what to make of the dramatic drop off in growth.


Tegan Wendland / WRKF

The full house will consider a bill Monday that would overhaul early education in Louisiana. The bill, part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform package, would challenge child care centers to prove that very young children are learning.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with Renee Casbergue, interim assistant dean of Education at LSU and a specialist in early childhood education, about the proposed legislation, which she says is being overshadowed by the governor's bids to change how teachers get tenure and support private school vouchers.


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