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

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

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell does Elvis.

Louisiana’s top lawyer actually puts on the bedazzled jumpsuit and performs as an Elvis impersonator in his spare time. It’s not a new gig for him: Caldwell says music has always been a part of his life.

As state lawmakers grapple with the $1.6-billion shortfall in the next budget, the House Appropriations Committee has asked budget analysts to investigate each department’s fiscal ups-and-downs over the Jindal administration years. Legislative budget analyst Chris Keaton says overall state revenues have dropped much less than the shortfall would indicate.

“Total state General Fund that we had available to spend went from $9.3-billion in 2006-07, to $9-billion in 2015-16,” Keaton announced Wednesday.

The House Appropriations Committee continues to take testimony on the governor’s budget proposal this week, but something isn’t adding up. When DOTD came to the table Tuesday, Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin started questioning purported savings from the disappearance of 33 jobs.

LSU

Imagine this: it’s a cool autumn Saturday night, and there’s no football in Tiger Stadium. In fact, there’s no LSU football at all, because the state’s flagship university is closed for the year. LSU System President F. King Alexander says the possibility is real.

“This budget reduction is so large, we’d have to furlough everybody for an entire year,” Alexander told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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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