The state has approximately $150 million earmarked in its annual spending plan for seven separate hurricane evacuations. Some believe that number is on the high end and that Louisiana will not have to cover the cost of seven different evacuations. If that's the case, there's the potential for a pot of available money in the budget.
Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a prominent interest on the state level, wonders what might happen to those funds. "It will be interesting to see exactly how that large appropriation will be spent during the next budget year, and what constitutes 'emergencies' that are addressed with the money," Juneau says. If it goes unspent, then homeowners might have another beef. During the spring session, some lawmakers wanted to use the cash to offset homeowner policy increases, but the move was rejected. ' Jeremy Alford
BLANCO WANTS TO REDUCE STATE PAYROLL
Louisiana will begin offering its state workers an early retirement option next year in hopes that payroll costs, and the annual budget, will deflate accordingly. Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed the legislation last week, prompted largely by last fall's hurricanes. Hordes of state workers either lost the buildings where they once worked or lost everything else. Additionally, many are moving out of the state or are suffering from various ailments, says Democratic Chackbay Rep. Warren Triche, who sponsored the act.
The program will offer early retirement to members of the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System who are at least 50 years old with 10 years of service. If a state employee decides to take advantage of the program, he or she will receive a retirement benefit equal to as much as 2 percent of their average compensation multiplied by the number of years of creditable service. Only one of every three positions left vacant by the program will be refilled, Triche says, unless the commissioner of administration and the head of the Department of State Civil Service decide to retain the post. The program would run from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2008. Anticipated savings equal roughly $4 million. ' JA
HUNTERS VERSED IN GLOBAL WARMING
A recent survey by the National Wildlife Federation shows that hunters and fishermen are keenly aware of global warming. Based on the responses of licensed anglers, 76 percent agree that global warming is occurring, and the same percentage has observed changes in climate conditions where they live ' such as warmer and shorter winters, hotter summers, earlier spring and less snow.
Nationwide, approximately one out of every five voters is a sportsman, according to the NWF. In 2004, they voted 2-to-1 for President George Bush over Sen. John Kerry. They also identify themselves overwhelmingly as moderate to conservative in their political beliefs. "We are reaching a tipping point in this country where the vital sportsmen's constituency is adding its voice to those who recognize global warming is occurring, that it poses serious threats and that action must be taken to address it," says Larry Schweiger, president of the NWF. ' JA
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Even though the Legislature recently balked at certain efforts to improve emergency communications during hurricane conditions, Congress is poised to vote on an amendment that would expedite funding for first responders. Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter inserted an amendment into the Communications, Consumers' Choice and Broadband Deployment Act that would release $1 billion for interoperability funding in September, rather than over the next four years as originally proposed.
"We haven't made much progress on interoperability since September 11, 2001, which was made clear again during Hurricane Katrina and Rita, when we had a complete breakdown in communications in the hardest hit areas," Vitter says. The bill is expected to move to the full U.S. Senate for a vote later this year. ' JA
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON KATRINA
If you missed The National Geographic Channel's June 24 debut of its Katrina documentary Drowning New Orleans, set your Tivo or VCR for its next showing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12. The hour-long film is a keeper worth saving for years to come, as it offers the clearest science-based analysis of post-Katrina flooding in New Orleans. Using computer-generated maps, interviews with first responders on the scene and chilling, previously unseen footage of the 17th Street Canal levee breach, Drowning New Orleans offers the most compelling video footage to date of the disaster ' and reaffirms that the Army Corps of Engineers' faulty levee-wall construction and the MR-GO canal deserves most of the blame for the tragedy. ' Scott Jordan
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.