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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Audit: Student Counts Intended to Cause Shortfalls

Why do Louisiana’s student counts keep coming up so woefully short, requiring the state to come up with more money for K-12 education each spring?

House Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin led the effort to find out why Louisiana’s mid-year MFP shortfall had grown from $18-million in 2008 to $56-million in 2014.

“When you have an increase in need in the MFP and you have a decrease in your revenue, it creates a train wreck,” Fannin told the Legislative Audit Advisory Council Thursday, as they received a report on a legislatively requested audit of the student count problem.

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Law and Order
2:56 am
Fri March 20, 2015

District Attorney: First Treat the Mental Illness

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore

Hillar Moore, was an investigator in the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office for 11 years, and a criminal defense attorney for 16 years, before he was elected DA himself.

With his long career in law enforcement, it has not escaped him that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Vote or No Vote: The $3.5-Million Question

The House Appropriations Committee has begun the process of combing through the governor’s budget proposal, and got some rather unpleasant news from Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

“I have no money for elections past the fall statewide elections,” Schedler said of the allocations in the 2016 budget plan. “And the most affected election would be the presidential preference primary in the spring. I have no funding for it.”

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Plan to Cash Out Tobacco Settlement Advances

The Jindal administration’s plan to sell off the remaining 40 percent of Louisiana’s tax settlement went before the board that oversees the tobacco dollars Tuesday. The administration wants to complete the sale by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. They’re hoping the money will be available to help with balancing the 2016 budget, which has an anticipated $1.6-billion shortfall.

“You never make a financial decision this important when you’re under this kind of financial pressure,” state Treasurer John Kennedy objected to board members.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Ain’t No Sunshine: Deliberative Process

This is “Sunshine Week”, with media organizations and civic groups across the nation working to educate the public on governmental access.

Here in Louisiana, the House Appropriations Committee starts working through the proposed budget this morning, yet the budget bill, HB 1, didn’t appear on the legislative website till 4 p.m. yesterday. Meanwhile, the Associated Press asked state agencies for public records regarding worst-case scenarios for the $1.6-billion budget shortfall. AP was told no.

One reason? “Deliberative process.”

“That ‘deliberative process’, which applies only to the governor and only to his office, has been widely used by all the other state agencies,” says The Advocate’s Capitol Bureau chief, Mark Ballard.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Business Inventory Tax Clearance or Reduction

Have you noticed you don’t see “inventory reduction” sales regularly, like you used to? That’s because of Louisiana’s business inventory tax credit, put in place in the 1990s.

“It certainly has been no reason for companies to deplete their inventories at the end of the year,” state Sen. Robert Adley observes.

Businesses still do count their inventory, and pay local taxes on their stock on hand. But when they file their corporate income tax returns with the state, Louisiana reimburses the companies for every penny they paid in inventory tax—even if the amount exceeds the other state taxes the business owes.

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Bayou Garden
7:23 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Spring Into Vegetable Gardening

Gardeners should consider planting tomatoes this time of the year.
Credit Joe/Flickr

It's time to start thinking about adding spring and early summer vegetables to your garden.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Severing the Fracking Tax Break

Should Louisiana repeal its 20-year-old severance tax exemption for horizontal wells? LSU economist Jim Richardson believes the time for that particular economic incentive has passed.

“In 1994, nobody knew how to do horizontal drilling. Today, everybody knows how to do horizontal drilling,” Richardson says of the tax break implemented to encourage what was then a new technology.

Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association president Chris John says the severance tax exemption for fracking wells keeps Louisiana in the shale production game.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Grover and the 'Guardrails'

Grover Norquist

At the state capitol, it seems like everybody is talking about Grover.

No, not Sesame Street’s Grover. They’re talking about Grover Norquist, the Washington, D.C. lobbyist and founder of ATR — Americans for Tax Reform.

State Sen. Robert Adley is not a fan.

“That ATR bunch we’re havin’ to live with? I just found out who they are,” Adley announced at a recent meeting.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Tax System Study Offers No Miracle Cure

Tulane economist Steven Sheffrin (L) and LSU economist Jim Richardson (R) present tax study

Anticipating the coming fiscal year’s massive shortfall, Louisiana’s legislature commissioned a comprehensive analysis of the state’s entire tax structure. That report was delivered Tuesday.

“Do we have the right tax structure for 2015 and on?” LSU economist Jim Richardson said was the main question being considered. “It’s a tax structure we put in place in 1973.”


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