Wednesday, May 2, 2012
We have a feeling the success of INNOV8 Lafayette will be felt for some time to come — and far beyond what its organizers even imagined. Take, for example, CajunCodeFest’s mission to tackle childhood obesity with a competition that awarded $25,000 to the winning concept, “PlayFit” by team BE CAMP VB, which created a system to manage “pickup” games and events that target at-risk kids by engaging community groups like churches and the YMCA. The victory includes entry to the invitation-only U.S. Health Datapalooza competition, a public-private collaboration in D.C. that encourages the use of readily available health data to create innovative solutions that spark community action for improving health. One of the software programmers competing in Lafayette last week, Reza Jelveh, came all the way from Hamburg, Germany, because he hopes to launch a startup in Lafayette. Thanks to Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park (pictured) was also in the house. INNOV8 set out to brand Lafayette’s creative economy over the course of its eight days of events. Did it succeed? See this week’s “C’est What?!” and you be the judge.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and his Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret are flying high through the corporation-lined clouds as they tout the state’s low unemployment figures and stable economy as reasons for supporting big-business tax breaks and other corporate exemptions that the Jindal administration has been steadily handing down. If Jindal and Co. ever decide to return to the reality of our state’s ongoing budget deficits, they’ll see that these same tax breaks and huge incentives for corporations to locate to Louisiana aren’t doing much, if anything, to aid the state’s coffers. According to a recent column from AP’s Melinda Deslatte, Moret is correct in his assertion that “these projects have had a very significant impact on our tax revenues,” but economists working to forecast state income counter that the impact has been anything but positive. Deslatte notes that the state lost $905 million in revenue in 2008 due to corporate income tax exemptions and credits, with those same tax credits expected to starve state coffers of another $1.4 billion in 2012. And though the national recession has played a role in Louisiana’s budget problems, it’s safe to say that the 83 percent drop in corporate tax collections, down $940 million from 2007-2008 to $156 million for 2012-2013, is a pretty significant factor in the steady decline of state services.
State news outlets have been quick to harp on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s extensive out-of-state travels since he took first office in 2008, but even frequent-flyer Jindal hasn’t racked up the 41 days of national and international travel that state Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has acquired since March 2011 — more than $20,000 worth of free trips paid for by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a national group with established ties to the insurance industry. The insurance commish tells The Political Desk (during a phone interview while Donelon was in Washington, D.C., on an NAIC-sponsored trip), that his travels represent a “unique situation:” Come 2013 he’ll the be the first NAIC president from Louisiana. Donelon maintains that his president-elect post at NAIC just ain’t as cozy as it appears, though his free trips to Nicaragua, Key West, Miami Beach and other exotic locales make it hard to argue that Donelon hasn’t signed on to a pretty sweet gig.
in case you missed it