Sue Lincoln

Capitol Access 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

The deadline for pre-filing bills for the 2016 legislative session is just 30 days away. But where does the track for a bill actually start?

Louisiana House Clerk Alfred “Butch” Speer says the process starts with a member’s idea, which is then brought to one of the 80 people who work in the House Legislative Service Division.

At first, it seemed as though everyone was breathing a sigh of relief, as the 2016 executive budget proposal unveiled last week did not slash higher education as deeply as expected.

“The true reduction to higher education is $211.3 million,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told the Joint Budget Committee last Friday.

But Nichols went on to admit that number is built on “ifs” and “maybes” that include capping the business inventory tax credit, as well as asking college students to pay what the administration is calling an “excellence fee”.

One component of the Jindal administration’s 2016 budget proposal, revealed Friday, involves holding the line on spending in the public-private hospital partnerships. The private partners in the LSU hospital deals had asked for an additional $142-million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“What we funded these hospitals for was level funding, effectively,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols detailed to the Joint Budget Committee. “And some of the hospitals are projecting growth above level funding. That’s the point of discussion that we are going to have to work through in this process.”

The Jindal administration unveils its budget proposal today for the next fiscal year. What solutions to the $1.6-billion deficit will be proposed?

“Until we see it, we don’t really know,” says Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux.

Even House Speaker Chuck Kleckley admits he has been kept in the dark.

“I know nothing,” Kleckley told us earlier this week. “I don’t know anything more than you know, or what I read in the press.”

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry will push lawmakers to lower the state’s uniquely high threshold for civil jury trials in the upcoming session. LABI president Stephen Waguespack says current law violates your constitutional right to trial by jury.

“You — as a citizen — can’t get a jury unless you’re sued above $50,000,” Waguespack explains. “If you’re sued for $35-, $40-, $45-thousand, then you better hope you’re going to get assigned to the right judge, because it’s the only choice you’re going to get here.”

We know their public personas, but what do Louisiana’s statewide elected officials do when they’re off the clock?

“Collecting sports memorabilia and Louisiana history stories have been my passions, as of late,” says Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne. He loves to recount those stories he’s learned of the characters and quirks that have made the Bayou State both strange and wonderful. One of his favorite tales involves former state Senator Dudley LeBlanc of Abbeville.

“It’s horrible. It’s as bad as we’ve seen, for sure.”

Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says the budget cuts looming ahead for Louisiana’s public colleges and universities are nothing short of brutal.

“We’re talking about three, four, five hundred million—they’re saying—in one year? That is an insurmountable obstacle for these schools.”

Erwin attended Monday’s meeting between governing board members for all of the state’s higher education systems, and some influential lawmakers. With the governor’s budget proposal due to be unveiled Friday, all are asking the same question: How bad will it be?

State lawmakers refused to approve part of the Jindal administration’s plan for balancing the current budget Friday, making it clear they’re fed up with sweeps of dedicated funds.

“Somebody, sooner or later, has got to stand up and say we’ve got to stop this,” Sen. Robert Adley of Benton remonstrated with the Joint Budget Committee and representatives of the Division of Administration.

Adley, a Republican, chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, and he took great issue with part of the budget-balancing plan to grab $6-million from gasoline taxes — which are dedicated to building and maintaining roads — and shuffle that money to State Police.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets today to vote on the governor’s plan for slicing $103-million from current year spending.

“These mid-year cuts are critical,” House Speaker Chuck Kleckley says of the painful necessity.


With so much current focus on the state budget, the term “statutory dedications” keeps coming up. What are they and why are they an issue? We turn to Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy for answers.

“We have about 370 special accounts into which money automatically flows, because the Legislature has dedicated it,” Kennedy says, by way of introduction.

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