Lawmakers have put the final nail in the coffin to close LSU’s public hospital in North Baton Rouge. In Wednesday’s Joint Budget Committee, the Baton Rouge delegation pointed to gaps in care for pregnant women, prisoners and mental health services.
Sen. Sharon Broome said she was appalled that the decades-old initiative to revamp facilities at Earl K Long morphed into moving services. “And we tried our best to get a new facility," Broome said. "Administrations change, goals change. I understand that. But I am very concerned when goals change and people are not considered.”
The Legislature is already taking up Gov. Bobby Jindal’s charge to move a bill to phase out the income tax, just a day after the governor ditched his own plan for repeal. The House will consider sending fiscal-hawk Rep. Kirk Talbot’s six-year income tax phase-out to the House Ways and Means Committee when it convenes at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Governor Jindal’s opening address to the legislature didn’t mention healthcare, higher education, or the budget in general. Instead, he flabbergasted lawmakers and media with a thirteen-minute long speech ditching his plan to raise sales tax revenue to replace the income tax. But he didn’t abandon the initiative altogether.
“I know that several of you have already filed bills to phase-out the income tax," Jindal said. "What I’m here to tell you is this: even as we park our bill, I call on you. Let’s work together. Let’s pass a bill this session to get rid of the income tax once and for all in the state of Louisiana.”
In a 13-minute speech kicking off the 2013 legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he still wants the legislature to get rid of the income tax in Louisiana, but he let go of his plan for doing so with a big sales tax hike, an increased tobacco tax and the removal of some tax breaks. Listen to the speech in its entirety.
Lawmakers from across the state convene Monday to kick-off the 2013 legislative session. It’s an odd-numbered year, so officials are tackling mostly fiscal matters – including Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate the income tax. He wants to make up the revenue by increasing the sales tax by 2.25 percent. The proposal has already met a litany of criticism.
Bob Mann – a political analyst and communications director for former Governor Kathleen Blanco – thinks the bill has slim chances. “It looks as if it’s not going to make it out of committee – at least not in its current form," Mann said.
While departments across the state are seeing steep cuts, the Department of Education has been getting more than it needs, according to accusations Wednesday in a House Appropriations Committee meeting.
Committee chairman Jim Fannin noted: year after year, the department has been allocated more money than it spent. In fiscal year 2012 the department's actual expenditures were $400 million dollars less than its $5.6 billion dollar operating budget.
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, considered among the most vulnerable of the Senate's red-state Democrats facing 2014 re-election, now has at least one potential Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, whose congressional district includes Baton Rouge.