Capitol Access

Weekdays at the bottom of the hour during Morning Edition

Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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Sue Lincoln

The latest Louisiana Survey data released by the LSU Public Policy Lab shows what appears to be a deepening divide between Republicans and Democrats in this state.

“Breaking news: Democrats and Republicans don’t get along. They don’t like each other,” survey director Dr. Michael Henderson told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.  And he says that appearance of major differences is compounding the division.

Have you ever tried to figure out where your money went, when you have too much month left at the end of your money? Tracking down the cup of coffee here; a loaf of bread there – plus $20 in unplanned groceries – shows how it slips away. That’s what the state legislature and administration are trying to figure out, though the hole ahead is $750-million deep.

Some say, “It’s easy. Just cut state contracts.” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says that’s no simple task.

Sue Lincoln

Governor John Bel Edwards opened the 2016 regular legislative session with an apology to the people of the state, because he cannot tell us how deep in the hole we still are.

“For the current year, it’s at least $30-million -- perhaps as much as $60 million,” Edwards said. “For the next fiscal year, our deficit’s somewhere in the $800-million range. We just don’t know.”

The governor outlined his agenda for the session, which includes raising the minimum wage, requiring equal pay for women, and revising voucher rules. He also urged lawmakers to work together for the greater good.

S. Lincoln

A bill heard in the House Municipal & Cultural Affairs committee Thursday brought a welcome respite from the simmering angst of the state budget crisis. It names the Gulf Fritillary as the official state butterfly.

“Louisiana has 45 state symbols, ranging from the state dog* to the state donut**,” Monroe Representative Jay Morris explained to the committee. “We don’t have a state butterfly at this time, and all of our neighboring states do have one.”

Sue Lincoln

The Revenue Estimating Conference met Wednesday, and we finally have updated figures on the status of the state budget. For the current fiscal year, there’s still a deficit.

“You’re about at 66-million,” House Fiscal Officer Patrick Goldsmith told the panel.

Governor John Bel Edwards had said Monday he thought the estimated deficit would come in lower, between $30-million and $60-million.

However, the projected deficit for FY 17, which starts July 1, 2016, is lower than expected.