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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NOV 21 Bobby Jindal is headed to Iowa again, the Des Moines Register reports here. The paper outlines what's going on with Bobby's non-campaign for president, and there's a lot of stuff here -- too bad none of it sounds like somebody running Louisiana. Hey, wasn't that the job he wanted?
NOV 21 The end of the term has come for the grand jury investigating a lucrative Medicaid contract and a former state health official's ties to the company that won it, the Advocate reports here, but that doesn't mean the investigation into this stinkiness is over. There are still some things to look into, the lead prosecutor says.
NOV 21 With the passage of two amendments to Louisiana's much-amended constitution (it has been amended almost 200 times now) higher education has an even bigger target on its collective back, columnist Jim Beam opines in this post. Higher ed used to share the spotlight with health care, but that has changed, he says.
NOV 21 Here's a weird one: The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Bill Cassidy for the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't consider support of medical marijuana but Cassidy said he would, WWL reports here.
NOV 21 Solange Knowles, possibly best-known for assaulting her brother-in-law in an elevator while wearing an ugly dress after the Met Ball, got married in the Marigny Opera House this past weekend, the New York Times reports here. Knowles, who has a house in the Faubourg Marigny district and owns a boutique in the Quarter, married Alan Ferguson.
NOV 21 This post on the Fuel Fix blog outlines a $1.4 billion move announced this week by the Apache Corp. that includes the sale of assets in south Louisiana. The company's interests in more than 90,000 acres in south Louisiana are some of the assets being sold, the post reports.
NOV 21 One (possible) positive from Hurricane Katrina is a comprehensive zoning ordinance for New Orleans. Nine years later, we're getting closer to that being finalized, but the current version has some problems. Here's the latest in a series of posts on The Lens in which residents give their views of the draft; this one is more amusing than most.
NOV 21 The new NOLA smoking ordinance is going to harsh your (nicotine) buzz, man. This post on Gambit outlines the high (or low, as the case may be) points: it includes electronic cigarettes and hookahs in its bans; eliminates smoking within 25 feet of any building's public entrance and in any public space - or near any public space - operated by the city.
NOV 20 Politico reports here that Bobby Jindal won't be kept out of the presidential race by anyone else's candidacy. (If he's running, which he's not, 'cause he's not done prayin' on it) So he's not interested in who is running, or what the polls say, or how much money he's got? K.
NOV 20 NOLA Defender's Tiny Daiquiri has a little fun with Bobby Jindal's Meet the Press appearance in this post. Bobby is still prayin' on whether or not he'll run for the job he's been running for over the past three years, Tiny says.
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