BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — One of Louisiana's chief budget-writers said Thursday he feels better about coping with the state's more than $1 billion shortfall after getting a sneak peek at Gov. Bobby Jindal's spending recommendations for next year.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin said he received a high-level overview from Jindal administration officials before the governor's 2013-14 budget recommendations are made public Friday. The plan includes privatization plans and debt refinancing to balance the multibillion-dollar proposal, Fannin said.
"We still have tremendous issues, but I feel better, at least at this point, about the budget than I felt at this point last year," Fannin, D-Jonesboro, said in an interview.
The state would need another $1.3 billion above its estimated income to maintain existing programs and services in the fiscal year beginning July 1, while also accounting for inflation, budget analysts say.
He said he doesn't yet know the details of where cuts will fall — and he acknowledges that could change his perspective as legislative budget analysts comb through the plans.
"I'm two weeks away from knowing what's really in it," Fannin said.
Jindal planned a Thursday afternoon news conference to give some insight into what his budget proposal will contain.
Fannin said the Jindal administration anticipates significant savings from privatization plans for the LSU charity hospital system that are still under development and continues the cuts made in December across higher education, health care programs and social services.
The committee chairman said the budget proposal anticipates using the savings from a possible refinancing of the state's tobacco settlement to plug holes as well. The Jindal administration has estimated such a refinancing, which hasn't yet been approved, could generate as much as $85 million in savings.
Jindal proposes state general fund cuts to public colleges, but those reductions will be offset with tuition increases so higher education spending overall would stay flat, Fannin said.
The governor and lawmakers have stripped more than $625 million in state financing from colleges and universities since 2008, according to the Board of Regents, and only part of that slashing has been made up with tuition.
As always, the budget proposal contains one-time, piecemeal funding to pay for ongoing state government programs and services, Fannin said.
That will fuel continued criticism from a group of House Republicans who complain the use of money that doesn't reappear year after year perpetuates a cycle of ongoing financial problems for the state, when the dollars fall away and need to be replaced.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.