Last year was a year of much progress by our governor and Legislature to improve the perception of Louisiana. Genuine progress was made in ethics reform, workforce development, funding for transportation infrastructure and coastal restoration, and tax relief for individuals and businesses.
As is true for the entire nation, Louisiana faces significant state budget concerns in the coming year. Despite these challenges, Blueprint Louisiana’s basic belief remains the same — it’s time to create the state we deserve.
Louisiana’s difficult budget outlook means we must do more with less, just like many households do every day. For state government, it suggests an ordering of priorities, a search for programs with maximum impact.
The mid-year budget cuts recently announced by Gov. Jindal hinted at some prioritization within state programs. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System was spared from cuts for the time being. It is a realization by our leaders that we must not halt progress in this key area of education and workforce development at a time when LCTCS has seen a significant enrollment increase. Blueprint Louisiana applauds this decision by the administration and legislative leadership to apply budget cuts strategically within a framework limited by the state constitution.
We look forward to a spirited debate and promising developments in health care reform in 2009. Gov. Jindal’s “Louisiana Health First” reform package addresses key components of Blueprint’s recommendations, including regional redesigns of our safety net provider system and coverage expansions for Louisiana’s uninsured.
We also applaud Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and LSU for their proposed partnership for physician training and patient care in Baton Rouge. This innovative and efficient new model strengthens the state’s commitment to medical education and health care delivery. Another move in the right direction.
Blueprint Louisiana is committed to its remaining agenda items of health care reform; investment in Pre-K education, transportation and coastal restoration/hurricane protection; and centers of excellence in the LCTCS system. We are also examining a couple of new ideas that fit our original mission and focus on positive change in higher education, despite looming cuts to these institutions.
In so doing, we commit anew to citizens to continue the effort of creating a Louisiana that is a better place to live and work.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.