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
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.