Sue Lincoln

Reporter

Sue Lincoln is a veteran reporter in the political arena. Her radio experience began in the early ’80s, in “the other L-A” — Los Angeles.

Since her transplantation to Louisiana 25 years ago, she has covered the state, the capital, and its colorful cast of characters for Louisiana Radio Network, LPB and the Southern Education Desk.

Now she’s focusing her experience and expertise on producing WRKF’s Capitol Access.

Ways To Connect

State Treasurer John Kennedy says when it comes to fixing the state budget, the legislature is doing it all wrong.

“Your goal ought not to be, ‘We need to get some more cash in this place.’ Your goal really ought to be, ‘Let’s make a tax system that looks like somebody designed it on purpose’,” Kennedy told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Lawmakers have advanced bills for temporary fixes, like suspending sales tax holidays, limiting film tax credits, and taking 20% off the top of the refundable business inventory tax credit. Kennedy said he’s disturbed by the lack of an organized plan to actually cure the state’s fiscal problems long-term.

In what’s become a sad tradition, the folks in yellow shirts came to the capitol again Saturday. It was their last chance this session to beg for more funding for the help they need caring for disabled family members at home.

The litany of their waiting and hoping for help was heartbreaking.

“Kiera has already been on the waiting list for waiver services for 6 years now.”

“Marcus has been on the waiting list since 2001.”

“If we have to continue to wait for waiver services, Riley may not be here to receive them.”

“Our children are disabled. Waiver slots need to be filled and the wait list needs to stop.”

A bill that would require the House Ways and Means and Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committees to get together and find fixes for the state’s tax credit system advanced Thursday.

“They will take the first bite at the apple and come out with a recommendation as to whether or not we will continue those tax credits, revise them, sunset or repeal them,” explained the bill’s author, Rep. Roy Burrell of Shreveport. “That’s a determination that will actually be made, and will be brought back to this body.”

Today the full House considers HB 2, the Capital Outlay bill. That’s the list of state and local construction projects authorized for the next fiscal year.

“We had about 1500 requests this year, representing about $4.6 billion,” Mark Moses with the Office of Facility Planning and Control told the House Ways and Means committee Tuesday. He also said the projects listed in HB 2 already exceed the money available.

“This year’s over-appropriation amount is $258-million.”

Then Wednesday, Moses told the House and Governmental Affairs committee their peers had added more projects to the list.

 

A bill to increase a tax credit program by $47-million dollars found favor with the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday. Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger’s HB 70 would double Louisiana’s current Earned Income Tax Credit.

“This allows about 30-percent of the state of Louisiana to keep more of their earned money,” Leger told the committee.

There were the kind of arguments for the bill that you’d expect.

“I see this bill as a response to consistent criticism that I hear – in this building and in the community at large – about people ‘getting something for nothing’,” Leger explained. “This program is one that rewards people for working.”

Louisiana’s Senate worked Monday, forgoing the holiday barbeque. The Senate Finance Committee did do some grilling however, as Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols gave them a rundown of HB 1, as approved by the House.

“They did include $31.1 million for LSU Medical School in Shreveport,” Nichols said of the House “priority list” – a wish list if more revenue is found.

We Remember

May 25, 2015

Louisiana remembers, and honors service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day.

The state’s full House of Representatives, with help from the Marine Corps Band, held a “Ceremony of Remembrance” before breaking for the long holiday weekend.

New Orleans Rep. Nick LoRusso, who also serves as a Lt. Col. with the Army’s Judge Advocate General Office, served as host, “To honor all of our fallen dead.”

They took every penny they could find.

“The House efforts have solved 850-million of the one billion dollar problem,” Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin announced.

They even decided what to do with some money they’ve not yet found.

“This 31-million for the medical school in Shreveport would be put in a priority line if that funding is available,” Shreveport Rep. Thomas Carmody said, in support of Rep. Bubba Chaney’s amendment to HB 1.

It took six hours of debate, but he full House passed a 24-billion dollar budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, resolving over half the $1.6-billion dollar shortfall.

House and Senate committees worked on numerous bills Wednesday, while awaiting today’s main event: the House floor debate on the budget. Several of those bills were previously featured here on Capitol Access.

Jack Donahue’s Senate-approved bill to uncouple TOPS from college tuition found favor with the House Education committee, helped along by the widow of the program’s founder, Phyllis Taylor.

“I would never stand here and support anything that limited the TOPS program,” Taylor told the committee. “We are seeking certainty, not limitations.”

The House Civil Law Committee heard arguments on both sides of HB 707 Tuesday. That’s the controversial measure prohibiting state action against those that exercise religious beliefs about marriage, including refusal to deal with same sex couples. It's also known as the "Marriage and Conscience Act".

“Religious observers need this basic protection,” said Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City, the bill’s author.

He urged swift action before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

“June 18, the world is going to change,” Johnson warned.

It is expected the high court will rule that all states must recognize same-sex marriage.

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