"We've heard everything from 18,000 people laid off, to we can balance it without laying off people, to 20,000 [laid off]," says Sen. Don Cravins. "I don't think anybody truly has a real grip on that right now. I can tell you, with absolute confidence, that we don't need to cut any more state employees, other than those who have come out of the affected areas and where they're no longer needed."
Gov. Kathleen Blanco called for legislators to come together to tackle the current crisis, adding, "Some of you will consider these cuts too painful, and you will try to avoid them. Let me warn you ' this is just the beginning." Despite Blanco's call for unity, Cravins says there's been more contention than consensus. "In my 14 years, this is the worst I've seen it," he says. "It's the worst division I've ever seen because it's factionalized in several areas. I'm not saying that it may not come together, but it's not going to be easy."
Earlier this month, about 4,000 state employees were dropped from the state payroll, most of which had been with LSU's hospitals and medical schools that were devastated in New Orleans. As of press time, Anne Soileau, acting civil service director, says that only two state agencies had submitted plans for layoffs.
Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office, says that more state job cuts are likely. "Only because the magnitude of the cuts being contemplated are so large, I don't see how you can do it without some kind of layoffs," he says. "However, I've been listening to the cut proposals coming from the departments so far, and the first round they're attempting to cut without large numbers of body layoffs. If they have vacancies, those are going. Student workers, those are going. Temporary people, those are going. They're trying to avoid or minimize reductions of filled positions of people that are on board and that have been there. If we're ever going to come back, you kind of need those people around.
"But realistically, to cut the entire billion or so dollars out," he adds, "I don't see how you can do it without some meaningful layoff reductions in the workforce."
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.