Friday, 08 June 2012 12:23
by The Independent Editors
Dem rep: Jindal victories illusory
[Editor’s Note: The following letter to the editor was submitted by Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite.]
Gov. Jindal can claim victory in the just completed legislative session but — thank goodness — the facts prove otherwise.
As the session started, Democrats in the House of Representatives pronounced the governor’s retirement package dead on arrival. For the most part, we were right.
Of the six parts of his package, five failed. Drastically delaying the retirement age, dead. Increasing employees’ contributions, dead. Reducing the benefits of future retirees, dead. All but eliminating cost-of-living increases for retirees, dead. Trying to merge two retirement systems at no savings to the taxpayer, dead. They were all unwise, unfair and — for the most part — unconstitutional.
More importantly, most of those bills did nothing to reduce the state’s retirement debt by even a penny.
The governor’s scheme to create a “cash balance” benefit for new employees — a plan that would deny most employees dignity and security in retirement — did squeak though, but only because of a tortured twisting of House rules.
That’s how the governor won every “victory” he claims. He and his allies resorted to breaking rules, ignoring the constitution and other excesses like springing 47-page amendments onto 3-page bills without giving committee members time to even read the massive changes.
They hold up that conduct as fair and transparent. I would call it unworthy of our people.
The governor was a bit more successful with his education package but only after more flouting of the rules and rushing through massive and complicated legislation. On the last day of the session, the House approved the $3.4 billion plan that funds local school systems with 51 votes when — by a rule that the speaker of the House ignored — that legislation needed 53 votes to pass.
As many predicted, serious flaws in the governor’s education package are already being exposed. The education department has already approved for taxpayer-funded vouchers schools that don’t have the teachers, classrooms, books or equipment to teach hundreds of new students. More worrisome, many of these schools do not have any history of delivering educational excellence.
This is not about right or left; it’s about right and wrong. Just look at how Democrats and Republicans joined to oppose the flawed MFP legislation.
I and many of my colleagues work in Baton Rouge on behalf of Louisiana workers, Louisiana families and Louisiana students. This session, we saw the needs of our people lose out to the governor’s personal political ambitions.
Rep. John Bel Edwards Chairman, Louisiana House Democratic Caucus Amite, LA
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OCT 1 Bobby Jindal is sure doing his best to court the far right; this post on TIME magazine says he'll be over in Oklahoma today to stand beside the billionaires who own Hobby Lobby while they announce a Bible "museum." In Washington D.C. (Wonder if there will be an exhibit on Matthew 19:24?)
OCT 1 Blogger Ian McGibboney is taking a look at the penalty call that is causing a stir. During a Monday NFL game, a player for the Chiefs executed a Muslim prayer gesture following a touchdown. The NFL has announced that the call was wrong, but Ian's not so sure.
OCT 1 Looks like hoards of whining college students and (extremely unflattering) satire can make a difference: The Advocate reports here that lease talks have reopened for Highland Coffees, a coffee shop near the north gates of LSU. Earlier this week, dismay was unleashed when the paper reported that the shop would be closing because its landlord had other plans for the space.
OCT 1 Blogger Mike Deshotels is outlining the flaws he sees in the so-called "Value Added Model" of teacher evaluation. It basically seeks to pay teachers according to how their students do on tests. (Sure hope they don't start using that model for doctors!) He's got a lot of information here, not just about the plan but about the people involved - and their history.
OCT 1 Columnist Jim Beam breaks down the difference between ISIS and ISIL, along with origins of each group and what has been reported about them over the years. It's a good clear primer if you're one of those continually confused by the names being thrown around.
OCT 1 Blogger Tom Aswell brings us up to date on the latest mess surrounding the Office of Group Benefits, which handles health insurance for state employees. It ain't pretty, and it has left Tom pleading for anyone who might be remotely competent in the Division of Administration to get in touch with him.
OCT 1 Look out! Some enterprising individual, who knows how to register a domain, has pulled off a stunning bit of hilarity here. Not long ago, blogger Lamar White Jr. gave us a post on Louisiana Family Forum, and how it is not a charity but is instead a tax shelter for a lobby. If you go to the interwebs and type in "louisianafamilyforum.com" you will find Lamar's story. Heh.
SEP 30 Here's another story that makes Louisiana look backward; blogger Manny Schewitz writes about a church that won't allow AA to use its facilities because those boozers might track in some gay. Every time he sees one of these, as he calls them "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" type of stories, he always starts wishing: "Please don't let it be Louisiana... Please don't let it be Louisiana..."
SEP 30 This post on PoliticusUSA, an extremely liberal blog, takes aim at Bobby Jindal's disingenuous attempts to play both sides against the middle on the evolution/creationism issue. Jindal is "dutifully serving his Koch masters" on the climate change issue as well, blogger Rmuse writes.
SEP 30 Ever wonder what goes on in a football locker room following a game like Sunday's embarrassment? Here's a post on ESPN about the "reality check" the Saints had. Among the comments: "Right now we're not a very good football team."
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