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
Grads and gridiron fans gear up for game day and paint the town red
Jindal describes the privatization as a cost-cutting move to save the state more than $100 million this year, while improving services and medical training.
A Baton Rouge judge is reconsidering his decision to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal's revamp of teacher tenure and salary laws.
Ambassador François Delattre will also receive an honorary doctorate of francophone studies at the commencement at the Cajundome.
During the past seven games, the Saints have forced two turnovers — a league low during that span. Now they're trying to figure out what has changed since their first seven games, when they forced 15 turnovers.
Choice cuts from Acadiana’s news media for Friday, Dec. 20, 2013:
For many fans, it was their third consecutive year participating in French Quarter parade.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, December 20, 2013:
Lafayette Parish School Board member Greg Awbrey deserves an attaboy for his unexpected vote during Wednesday’s meeting approving a mediation session between the board and Superintendent Pat Cooper.
The cable television network's suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson from the hit reality show has drawn criticism from the governor of Robertson's home state.
The State Bond Commission gave preliminary approval to the borrowing plan Thursday without objection.
The Pediatric Clinic is housed in the same location previously closed by state budget cuts in June 2012.
Three-term Louisiana senator facing tough re-election battle is next in line for Energy Committee chairmanship.
In a letter distributed during Wednesday night's meeting, Lafayette Parish School Board member Shelton Cobb, in his final meeting as board president, called on his fellow board members to start focusing on the children and stop battling Superintendent Pat Cooper.
Joshua Dore of Breaux Bridge was sentenced Tuesday to 1.5 years in prison for counterfeiting, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office on Wednesday.
School super Pat Cooper alleges Lafayette Parish School Board member Mark Allen Babineaux, an attorney, publicly disclosed the details of a closed-door executive session.
Sun Belt commissioner presents title and practice gets under way in preparation for Saturday
Kerry Bertrand’s charge was upgraded Tuesday by an Acadia Parish grand jury from manslaughter to second-degree murder for his alleged role in the drowning death of his stepdaughter, Skylar Credeur.
Sean Payton announced Wednesday that veteran Shayne Graham was New Orleans' new kicker, and that rookie Terron Armstead would get his first start at left tackle.
Should new parents be required by law to attend special classes before being permitted to raise their child? It’s an idea state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is seriously considering.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Lafayette Parish School Board tells it all: The board has lost sight of its elected purpose.
A public Mass will be held Thursday in New Orleans for artist George Rodrigue, who died Saturday of cancer at age 69.
Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration hasn't done an independent performance review of its $363 million privatization contract for mental health and addictive disorder treatment services.
"Whether it's the tackle position, whether it's a player on defense ... we're going to look closely at what our options are and what gives us the best chance."