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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JUL 25 Elliott Stonecipher writes about his specialty in this post on Forward Now: numbers. He's running down Louisiana's poverty numbers, and they aren't good. There has been progress, he says, but can we build on it? And is poverty in Louisiana inevitable?
JUL 25 Jim Brown is blogging about the death penalty this week. In particular, he's discussing a really, really good reason to stop using it: too many people who aren't guilty are being convicted and sentenced to death.
JUL 25 Blogger Tom Aswell has crafted a fascinating analysis in this post. He's discussing Bobby Jindal and his cross-country, pre-presidential pandering, but he weaves in a historical perspective by reviewing FDR's New Deal and Huey Long's resistance to it - which also was because Huey planned to run for President.
JUL 25 Education Superintendent John White probably shouldn't sign a long lease on anything in Louisiana, Blogger Lamar Parmentel writes, because our reformer in chief is now in a situation "from which no amount of his own bs jargon or political hatchet work can extricate him." Lamar thinks that White is going to have to quit, and probably sooner rather than later.
JUL 25 Blogger Ian McGibboney gives his take on that study that found the happiest cities are right here in Louisiana, including Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. (Really. I know, right?) As he says, it is all about perspective: One can be happy in a toxic dump and miserable at Disney World.
JUL 25 Blogger Rod Dreher writes about Christianity in this post, examining the concept of traditional or orthodox as it relates to his religion. Since Dreher is a conservative, orthodox Christian, it's not an objective discussion, but it's certainly an interesting read, if for no other reason than to seek understanding.
JUL 25 If you're not aware, there's a conflict among pro-choicers and pro-lifers going down in New Orleans. Anti-abortionists are protesting in the city this week, but those who support access to abortion have also been active in the city as a result. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow takes a look at what's going on in this clip, posted on Gambit.
JUL 25 This post on the Wall Street Journal examines the case of a Metairie physician who is making millions by filing whistle-blower lawsuits. His suits accuse corporations of defrauding federal agencies like Medicare, and when he wins he gets whistle-blower rewards - in the tens of millions of dollars. (You can view the story using your Facebook account, but if you don't want to do that, here's an abbreviated version in the Advocate.)
JUL 24 The Lens is hosting a panel discussion on the cost of coastal restoration, and who should pay for it, next month in NOLA. It is planned to be a discussion of the realities of the coastal restoration master plan and its current funding, as well as what the future holds.
JUL 24 This post on the Red Stick Blog reveals nine facts about Mike the Tiger, the LSU mascot who turns nine this week. That's interesting and all, but the best part of the post is the video of Mike playing around with a visitor, just like any other kitty. A massive, deadly, 400-pound, roaring kitty.
JUL 24 The recent articles about a study that found America's happiest cities are here in Louisiana have produced some raised eyebrows among those who have actually been to Shreveport and Baton Rouge. But the Today show did some research, and produced this article which talks about stuff that doesn't really represent those two cities. Are we still going with the drunk, fat and stupid brand?
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