As the state Legislature convenes in Baton Rouge to assess how the state will move forward following the most devastating hurricane season in history, one of the most pressing issues will be how to offest an estimated $960 million loss in tax revenue created by the hurricanes.
Gov. Blanco has already sliced about $500 million out of the budget through a statewide spending freeze and other cuts, largely to health care and higher education.
"I think it sends us a good message that she's willing to make the necessary cuts," says Lafayette state Sen. Mike Michot, who sits on the state Senate finance committee.
Michot says the state's current financial situation means it should try and find new ways to fund infrastructure and economic development projects, such as financing new roads through toll collections.
"We need to think outside the box," he says. "We need to take advantage of this situation and shrink the size of government."
As for the other hard-to-swallow news that the state will owe the federal government an estimated $3.7 billion for its share of hurricane recovery costs, Michot suggests that the feds shouldn't expect a check anytime soon.
"I say just don't pay it," he says. "The federal government's barking up the wrong tree. In a situation like this, we look to the federal government for help. They need to be helping us, not sending us a bill." ' Nathan Stubbs
Galatoire's decision to open a Baton Rouge location before getting its storied French Quarter restaurant back up and running is not sitting well with some New Orleanians. "Traitors," summed up New Orleans native John Currence in a New York Times story last week.
"After weeks of speculation, Baton Rouge has indeed scored a gastronomical coup with Galatoire's," wrote Baton Rouge-based Daily Report's Gary Perilloux, who said the famous restaurant has signed a seven-year lease for the former Caspian Grill on Perkins Road near Highland and I-10. Caspian Grill closed its operations and sold its furnishings and equipment to the Galatoire's venture, Baton Rouge Restaurant LLC.
Galatoire's hopes to begin serving in Baton Rouge before the holidays in the midst of an expansion of the 4,100-square-foot property to 7,000 square feet with 31 additional parking spaces, according to Daily Report.
Back in storm tattered New Orleans, Galatorie's diehards will have to wait till after the first of the year to booze it up over shrimp remoulade on Bourbon Street.
The Galatoire's news comes on the heels of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse's September decision to make permanent its temporary headquarters relocation from Metairie to Orlando, Fla. ' yet another symbolic gesture of desertion. ' Leslie Turk
LAFAYETTE, STATE TOURISM CAMPAIGN FEATURED IN USA TODAY
The Nov. 4 edition of USA Today newspaper helped send a message that the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission is feverishly trying to send to the rest of the world: Lafayette tourism is open for business. Local and state tourism officials are trying to combat the outside perception that the entire state flooded after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and the Louisiana Office of Tourism just launched a $550,000 ad campaign to attract out-of-state tourists. The article noted that area attractions such as swamp tours and nightclubs are open, and singled out Prejean's restaurant and 307 Downtown in its coverage. ' Scott Jordan
UL LAFAYETTE HOSTS POST-KATRINA LECTURE SERIES
A band of grassroots organizations is hosting a lecture series titled "Post-Katrina Environmental Issues" at UL Lafayette. Malcolm Suber, one of the organizers of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition, will give the first lecture, "The struggle to include poor and working class people in the reconstruction of New Orleans," at UL's Hamilton Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. The People's Hurricane Relief Fund Organization is dedicated to calling attention to environmental and social justice issues related to the hurricane rebuilding effort.
On Monday, Nov. 7, the group helped organize a march across the Crescent City Connection bridge to protest the scores of evacuees who were stopped by police from evacuating into Gretna in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
The lecture series is being sponsored by UL's Biology Department. More information on the People's Hurricane Relief Fund organization can be found at www.communitylaborunited.net. ' Nathan Stubbs
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.