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
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
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.