A gaggle of state representatives, all of them Republican save for one independent, have asked state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell for an opinion on whether the 2012-13 state budget is unconstitutional “on multiple grounds.” That would be the budget submitted by Gov. Bobby Jindal before the 2012 legislative session — a budget laden with accounting gimmicks and reliant on one-time, non-recurring revenue for recurring expenses, which is precisely why the group of lawmakers seeks Caldwell’s opinion. Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, is among the legislators seeking the AG opinion.
“Legislators are concerned whether Louisiana’s state budget is constitutional and lawful,” says Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge and vice-chairman of the House Commerce Committee, in a press release announcing the legal query. “We are seeking guidance regarding whether exceeding the revenue forecast; use of contingency funds and one-time funds in the budget are lawful and constitutional. We hope to continue the efforts of legislators to ensure that our budget and budget process yield a result that best serves the needs of the people, families and businesses of Louisiana.”
We can’t help but wonder if this is a perilous (albeit necessary) move by the solons, in light of the governor’s well-known penchant for dispensing punishment — ouster from prestigous committees, loss of chairmanships, etc. — against lawmakers who fail to smile that wan, sycophantic smile.
But it also conforms to a trend of state lawmakers demonstrating and acting publicly on their unease with the way Jindal has run state government. A related initiative involving some of the same lawmakers as Talbot’s group and evidently entirely Republican among the ranks of elected officials, the Budget Reform Campaign, has been making noise about promoting budget reform — especially ending the use of one-time dollars for recurring expenses, something Jindal is famous for — via constitutional amendments. The group has formed a political action committee managed by state Rep. Simone Champagne, a Jeanerette Republican.
The announcement by Talbot et al comes on the heels of the governor’s budget advisors announcing late last week that the 2013-2014 budget, which begins July 1, 2013, already faces a staggering $963 million shortfall. That’s 96 percent of a billion dollars, kids, so let’s just call it a billion.
Check out the Budget Reform Campaign’s website here.
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OCT 21 Two St. John Parish employees were indicted in connection with the ameoba found in the parish water supply, WVUE reports in this post. They are accused of lying about testing the water for proper chlorine levels, the story says, claims that were contradicted by their government vehicles' GPS records.
OCT 21 Here's an interesting story from the National Journal about New Orleans almost 10 years post-Katrina. There are demographic information and charts, as well as some commentary about the corresponding changes in the way the city looks and works.
OCT 21 Gambit offers its endorsements for the upcoming election in this post, including an endorsement of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. The best way to protect Louisiana's clout is to re-elect the senior senator, the paper opines. Sending a Republican in her place won't accomplish anything, the paper adds.
OCT 21 The McClatchy DC blog posts this fascinating view of Louisiana's political landscape. It's a little heavy on the cliches, and also a little heavy on the quaint Cajun/Creole shtick, but it's still good reading -- if only for the outside view of our insides.
OCT 21 An audit finds very little federal oversight of coastal restoration grants, the Advocate reports here. Two federal agencies charged with overseeing how the money was spent didn't oversee the grants properly, didn't know enough about how the grants were supposed to be spent, and provided conflicting records about the money, the audit found.
OCT 21 The first Senate debate featuring all three candidates was a big ho-hum, columnist Jim Beam writes in this post. Nobody said anything new or interesting, and nobody emerged the clear winner, he says.
OCT 21 Bobby Jindal can't seem to leave Daniel Malloy alone, this post on NOLA Defender says. On a recent trip to stump for another GOP'er (Ever wonder: does any of his stumping really help these guys? Or is he just trying to get his name in other newspapers?) Jindal again ran afoul of Connecticut's Governor, who has no problem calling Bobby on his claims, the post tells us.
OCT 21 Jeremy Alford writes about David Vitter's playbook in this post, and frankly, there are some things we don't want to know. We've all heard about what's in that book, haven't we? That kind of stuff is not our idea of a good -- oh, wait. Jeremy's writing about Vitter's political playbook. Never mind.
OCT 20 Remember those great posts from blogger Jason Brad Berry that featured emails and letters related to the BP claims process? Well, apparently Patrick Juneau (who was featured, but not in a positive way, in those documents) ordered a background check on Berry because of it, this story in Louisiana Record says. Huh?
OCT 20 The Globe and Mail, a Canadian paper, has posted its story on Louisiana's coastal loss here. In it, author Omar El Akkad clarifies it neatly: it's "a battle between prosperity and the planet's well-being." Are jobs and money worth the trade we're making? As Jonathan Foret says in the story, Mother Nature may come and answer that question for us.
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