ACADIANA DELEGATION FILLED WITH PRAISE FOR SESSION With a $1.1 billion surplus fully spread around, how could area lawmakers not be at least a little giddy returning to their districts this week? That’s how much of your money was spent during the seven-day special session that convened last Friday.
More than $500 million was poured into roads and $300 million pegged for coastal protections. Tax breaks were also doled out to parents and businesses, and many regional ports received financial assistance. “The Legislature as a whole came forward to improve the business climate in this state. This session, in addition to the progress made from the special session on ethics, has the future of our state looking bright,” says Rep. Jonathan Perry, a Republican from Abbeville who chairs the Acadiana Delegation.
The lawmaker caucus represents a 22-parish stretch and is growing in membership. As part of its outreach, the delegation released a rave review of the recent special session that listed eight items of interest for the legislatively-defined area of Acadiana. Those items included:
• $20 million to widen U.S. Highway 90
• $75 million that UL Lafayette can share in with other Louisiana colleges and universities for critical repairs
• $2 million for Acadiana parishes (the Legislature’s 22; not the traditional geographic outlay) for the maintenance and improvement of rural roads.
Perry adds all of the accomplishments were collective goals that every member of the group assisted on when possible. “I am particularly proud of how the Acadiana Delegation came together on those issues that directly affected our districts,” he says.
GOVERNOR MAKES PR SWING THROUGH LAFAYETTE It’s becoming increasingly safe to label Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal as the most-traveled governor in recent years, at least inside state lines.
He hit the road and visited Louisiana major metro areas during the campaign, after being elected, before his special session on ethics and then again following the session. Now, with a successful second special session in the can, Jindal took to the asphalt again to tout his administration’s accomplishments from the gathering that convened last week.
He appeared on Monday at Lafayette’s Restaurant, in the Bayou Room, highlighting his victories from the recent special session where lawmakers spent the state’s $1.1 billion surplus according to an agenda crafted by his administration.
AN “INFURIATING” $156 MILLION INCREASE TO ICF FOR THE ROAD HOME Last week, The Times-Picayune revealed that former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration increased the payment to ICF International for administering the Road Home project in December by $156 million — from $756 million to $912 million, an increase of 25 percent — unbeknownst to the general public. Blanco defended the action, telling the T-P via e-mail, “It was my understanding and belief that any contract change would be publicly noticed. I encourage Steve Theriot, the legislative auditor, whose office was consulted during negotiations, to continue to audit ICF and to hold them accountable for every dollar of their contract.” Theriot told the paper he would begin dissecting the amendment costs immediately.
The Associated Press reported that ICF is boasting strong profits after going public and getting “a potentially big raise recently from the state of Louisiana,” even though 56,000 applicants still hadn’t received any Road Home monies as of last month. True to form, ICF representatives defended the raise and laid blame elsewhere for inefficiencies in the program. ICF spokeswoman Gentry Brann complained in an Associated Press story that the Road Home has come to be viewed as an entitlement program and blamed meddling community groups for some of the program’s problems. The T-P was not amused, blasting Brann and ICF in a Sunday editorial:
“That is outrageous,” the paper wrote. “This grant money is a small measure of repayment for the massive devastation wrought when the federal government’s levees fell apart during Katrina. The air of entitlement comes from Ms. Brann and others at ICF, which went public after getting the Road Home contract and has profited handsomely on rising stock prices. ... Ms. Brann pointed out in the AP story that ICF will only make a 3 to 5 percent profit on the Road Home contract. She makes it sound like a sacrifice. But 5 percent on $912 million is $45.7 million. That would be a fortune to the thousands of South Louisianians who have had to beg for the grants they need to rebuild their shattered homes.”
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and R. Reese Fuller
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Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
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The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
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A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.