Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SAME SEX COUPLES IN LOUISIANA SUE TO HAVE THEIR MARRIAGES RECOGNIZED

From Houma Today:
The Blanchards are a gay couple, married in Iowa last year, who live in Lafourche. They, along with two other gay couples, have sued the state claiming Louisiana’s refusal to recognize their marriage violates their constitutional freedoms.  
....

Driving through their Raceland subdivision past the single story, cookie cutter red brick homes, the Blanchards’ home would be difficult to distinguish from those of most bayou families. 
....

Courtney argued that those still resisting will be remembered in the same light as those who resisted civil rights for blacks. She added the couple feel nothing but love from their neighbors and others.

“We are accepted around here,” Courtney said. “My grandma knows, and she understands it. I would never imagine that kind of stuff.”
I wish the Blanchards and the other couples in Louisiana success in their litigation to have their marriages recognized.  In other states which do not allow same sex marriages, courts have ruled in favor of recognition.  If the litigation is successful, you'll hear hootin' and hollerin' from folks who disagree with the ruling, but recognition of the marriages is inevitable, and, if not now, then it will come, probably sooner, rather than later.  Seventeen states allow same sex marriages, and the number will surely grow.

The reporter paints a sympathetic picture of the Blanchard family, portraying them as "normal" and unthreatening, which I do appreciate, but I was amused at the description of their house as just like any other house in the neighborhood.  You'd never know from passing by that a family with a young child with two mommies lived there.  What are the expectations about the homes of lesbian and gay couples?   I have no idea.  Norman Bates' house in Psycho

Thursday, January 23, 2014

DAVID VITTER IN THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA

Many of you have already heard that Senator David Vitter will run for governor of the State of Louisiana. Oh joy! Are we lucky, or what? I choose, "Or what?" If you know me at all, you know I do not want David Vitter to be my governor.
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, released a scathing statement Tuesday about Vitter’s gubernatorial bid. Peterson, D-New Orleans, called Vitter an obstructionist and a failure. She questioned his ability to work across political lines. She assigned him a .000 batting average for the success of his legislation last year. What she didn’t mention was his sex scandal.
 Pretty much my opinion, too, and smart of Carter not to mention the scandal.

I expect that few voters in Louisiana are unaware of Vitter's association with a prostitution ring that continues to dog him 7 years later, and the opposition will very likely use against him what Vitter himself called a "serious sin". I hope most Democrats are as smart as Karen Carter and do not bring up the matter repeatedly, thus appearing to pile on, with the result that Vitter will get sympathy votes. He was reelected senator by a landslide, so the connection with the prostitution ring is not likely to sway voters in the election for governor one way or another.  And here I am talking about it, but I hope not to in the future.


With Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Treasurer John Kennedy, both Republicans, considering a run, either would be more acceptable to me than Vitter, with Dardenne as my preference between the two.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BOBBY JINDAL TWEETS


Only until the weak are born. If parents in Louisiana need help for the child after birth, well good luck with that. Gov. Jindal will not implement Medicaid Expansion, though it would not cost the state one cent for 9 years, and thereafter only 10% of the expenses of the programs.


The group that awarded Louisiana the "prize",  Americans United for Life, apparently does not follow up on the care given to the "weakest and most vulnerable among us" after they're born, or they would remind Gov. Jindal that babies, indeed all vulnerable human beings among us, need care throughout their lives after they're brought into the world.

At least one Louisiana state senator is trying to provide health insurance for low income people in Louisiana. 
State Sen. Ben Nevers said Tuesday that he would propose two constitutional amendments aimed at guaranteeing that low income Louisiana adults get basic health care coverage.

Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said he wants Louisiana voters to either authorize expansion of the state Medicaid program called for in the federal health care revamp or to provide health care coverage for residents whose income falls below the federal poverty level.
....

The Kaiser Commission estimates 242,000 Louisiana residents, who make too much for Medicaid but too little to purchase adequate insurance, would qualify for Medicaid coverage through the expansion. For an individual, 100 percent of the federal poverty level is $11,490. For a family of four, it’s $23,550. At 138 percent for an individual it’s $15,856 and family of four $32,499.

Nevers said people are ending up in hospital emergency rooms with serious illnesses because of lack of health care and that “cost all of us millions.”
There's no such thing as free emergency room care; someone pays.  I hope other legislators take note and support Sen. Nevers in his efforts to provide health insurance for those who cannot afford the premiums, since the governor refuses to address the problem.

And further, if you click the link, you will read about two success stories from people who were able to buy affordable health insurance through - Gasp! - the Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare.
'Tierney Brinkman, a New Orleans server and bartender, said she went without insurance for 10 years. “It’s not that I didn’t want it. I had a pre-existing condition,” said Brinkman, explaining she had lumps in her breast and breast cancer in her family. She said either no company would insure her or the monthly premiums were “well beyond my means.” That 10 years without coverage was “terrifying,” she said.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, Brinkman said she now has a quality plan with a low deductible: $108 a month.
Despite the horror stories, the ACA is working as it should to provide health insurance for those who previously could not obtain coverage or who paid very high premiums because of preexisting conditions.  Insurance, any insurance, is about spreading the risk throughout a large number of people.  For the young and healthy who say they don't need health insurance, I remind them that even among their age group, even if only a small number, some will be diagnosed with a medical condition that requires expensive treatment.  Further, no one is able to predict an accidental injury that would require long-term medical treatment.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

DON'T WANT TO WAIT? PAY EXTRA TO A PRIVATE COMPANY

Heading to a state motor vehicles office to get your driver’s license? A legislative report suggests you might want to bring a book or Kindle device and expect a wait.

Wait times at locations for the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles have shot up to as much as 1½ hours in some places as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration slashed staffing levels amid continuing state budget cuts, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office.

Here's the money quote.
OMV is rolling out a program that allows a public tag agent — a private business that processes vehicle title registrations — to also renew state driver’s licenses, for up to an extra $18 fee."
Reduce the number of state employees and, if citizens are annoyed by long waiting times, provide more convenient service by hiring a private, profit-making business, and make them pay extra for a service that the state should provide for all citizens in a timely manner. There you have it. Shrinking government and privatization in action. Thank you, Governor Jindal.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

LOUISIANA WILL LOSE OVER 1 BILLION BY REFUSING TO IMPLEMENT MEDICAID EXPANSION

States not expanding Medicaid under Obamacare will be collectively lose more than $35 billion in federal funds in 2022 alone, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund.
....

The Commonwealth Fund further explained the study's methodology as follows:
Federal funds that pay for state Medicaid programs are raised through federal general revenue collection—taxes paid by residents in all states—whether or not they participate in the program. Therefore, taxpayers in states not participating in the Medicaid expansion will bear a share of the overall cost, without benefitting from the program. Glied and Ma estimated the net loss of federal funds to states that do not expand Medicaid by using projected federal Medicaid spending in each state and calculating the federal Medicaid-related taxes paid by each state.
According to Healthrender, Louisiana stands to lose 1.566 billion dollars.  That's billions lost to the state budget that is often in arrears and requires last minute cuts in programs and institutions that have already been cut to the bone.

Almost certainly people in Louisiana will die from treatable diseases and conditions because of the lack of health insurance, either because treatment was started too late, or because treatment was inadequate.

So far as I can make out, Jindal refuses the money for the sake of furthering his political ambitions on the national scene.  He has campaigned around the country since he first assumed the office of governor in Louisiana.  His extensive travels for political purposes leave him little time in the state which he governs so incompetently.  Even so, Jindal has managed to destroy or maim multiple institutions and programs that took decades to build and will require generations to recover if the people of Louisiana ever have the will to elect governors who will build up rather than destroy.    

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WILL BOBBY JINDAL IMPLEMENT MEDICAID EXPANSION?

From blogger CenLamar: 
The Dumbest Decision in Contemporary Louisiana History

In less than thirty days, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will make a final decision on whether he wants to accept, according to a report published by his own Department of Health and Hospitals, as much as $25 billion from the federal government in order to guarantee and expand health care coverage for as many as 653,000 poor and working class Louisiana families and individuals.
....

"The fiscally, socially, ethically, and morally responsible thing to do would be to accept the Medicaid expansion dollars to which we are already entitled. The fiscally, socially, ethically, and morally responsible thing to do would be to champion and embrace the promise of lifting hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and fellow citizens out of despair and hopelessness, to provide them with the very basic opportunity to access affordable and quality health care. It is profoundly decent, but even more than that, it is also represents the single most important and transformative investment in Louisiana’s workforce in modern history."
What are the chances that Jindal will do the right thing?  Slim to none I'd say.  The governor wants to remain pure in the eyes of his Tea Party fans, and anything that involves a link with Obamacare would render him impure.  So what if hundreds of thousands of the poor and working class in Louisiana remain without health insurance?  The governor's ideology trumps health care.

A number of Republican governors have set aside ideology and implemented the Medicaid Expansion as a no-brainer because it will not cost the states a dime for nine years and then only 10% of the costs thereafter.   In addition, perhaps the governors may have been ashamed to so blatantly put their political ambitions above the welfare of the poor and low income people of their states.  Such a lack of compassion in a man who claims to be a Catholic Christian but chooses to ignore Roman Catholic social justice teachings about preferential treatment of the poor is puzzling to me.  Has he ever heard or read the words of Pope Francis?

How healthy are the people of Louisiana?  Are the citizens of the state so far above the rest of the country in good health that we do not need the Medicaid expansion?  Indeed not.  There we are in our usual place in the group of least-healthy states, tied for 49th place with three other states.

Click on the chart and map for larger views.

 


Monday, November 11, 2013

EMILINE "DOUCE" BOURGEOIS - OLDEST WOMAN MILITARY VETERAN IN LOUISIANA

Emiline Anne Bourgeois enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps on Feb. 10, 1945, a week after the U.S. 6th Army invaded Luzon island in the Philippines intent on liberating Manila from the Japanese. About six months later, she was there nursing wounded soldiers.

A Thibodaux native, she served her country through the end of World War II in the Philippines and a post-war, overseas assignment in occupied Germany.

She served stateside through the Korean War and the beginning of the Vietnam War era.

Bourgeois was honorably discharged as a major on Jan. 31, 1962, a rank few women attained back then.

Douce is an old friend and distant cousin. Two years ago, we celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends. The picture to the right shows Douce with her sister Cora Lee at her birthday party at a local restaurant.  Douce will be 102 years old on on Christmas Eve of this year.



Douce receiving communion from a lay minister dressed in her uniform, which is still a perfect fit.



Douce and I are related through the two brothers pictured in their Confederate uniforms. On the left is Paulin Adrien Ledet, Douce's grandfather, and on the right is François Amedee Ledet, my great-great-grandfather.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

STILL THE STUPID PARTY

A significant chunk of Louisiana Republicans evidently believe that President Barack Obama is to blame for the poor response to the hurricane that ravaged their state more than three years before he took office.
....

Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren't sure who to blame.
Republicans in Louisiana have not heeded Governor Jindal's advice to stop being the stupid party.  The poll results demonstrate a classic example of Louisiana Republicans' disregard for facts. Everything is Obama's fault.  Facts, dates, history, none of that matters. Unfortunately, it's not just Republicans in Louisiana who live in the unreality bubble.

People here and throughout the country cannot accept the fact that Obama is president, because he is black and because he is a Democrat, thus the birthers who blather endlessly about the invalidity of the president's birth certificate. Racism plays a large part in the disdain for Obama, but, if you observe the commentary about Hillary Clinton from certain quarters, you see it's not entirely about racism.

Indeed, Jindal himself has not followed his own good advice advice.  He spent $800,000 of state money trying to pass his program to eliminate state income taxes an impose a sales tax to replace the revenue which was wildly unpopular and went nowhere in the legislature.

The next debacle was the administration's attempt to fund private schools by using public school money, which prompted a lawsuit that cost the state who knows what amount of our tax money to defend the suit.  In the end, the Louisiana Supreme Court decided that the use of public school funds violated the Louisiana constitution, so Jindal had to scramble to find money that was already committed to pay tuition in private schools for low income families and return money to public schools.

And now the latest in the state's privatization of health care.
A private company that took over management of state behavioral health programs last year has not complied with contract terms, a state audit released Monday found.
The $354 million two-year contract with Magellan Health Services allows the state Department of Health and Hospitals to impose sanctions, but none have been, the Louisiana legislative auditor wrote.
The company doesn't pay claims in a timely manner.  A friend who is a psychologist told me that before he read the article, he know the company would be either Magellan or another company known for not paying claims on time.  Kathy Kleibert, head of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says:
The program has been successful, she said, by allowing DHH to expand access to care for more people and provide better service. It allowed DHH to increase the number of providers from 800 to 1,700.
All well and good, but if the providers don't get paid, they will not continue to provide services.  Duh. 

I'm sorry for us, the citizens of Louisiana, that Jindal and his cohorts have failed us in so many areas of governance, which leads me to the governor's latest poll numbers from Public Policy Polling.  Only 28% of voters in Louisiana approve of Bobby Jindal's performance, while 59% disapprove.  Three years ago Jindal's approval rating was at 58%, with 34% of voters disapproving of his performance.  The governor's numbers are sinking like a stone.

UPDATE: For more on Jindal's polling numbers see CenLamar

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BAYOU CORNE - THE COMMUNITY SWALLOWED BY A SINKHOLE.


About once a month, the residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, meet at the Assumption Parish library in the early evening to talk about the hole in their lives. "It was just like going through cancer all over again," says one. "You fight and you fight and you fight and you think, 'Doggone it, I've beaten this thing,' and then it's back." Another spent last Thanksgiving at a 24-hour washateria because she and her disabled husband had nowhere else to go. As the box of tissues circulates, a third woman confesses that after 20 years of sobriety she recently testified at a public meeting under the influence.

"The God of my understanding says, 'As you sow, so shall you reap,'" says Kenny Simoneaux, a balding man in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt. He has instructed his grandchildren to lock up the ammunition. "I'm so goddamn mad I could kill somebody."

But the support group isn't for addiction, PTSD, or cancer, though all of these maladies are present. The hole in their lives is a literal one. One night in August 2012, after months of unexplained seismic activity and mysterious bubbling on the bayou, a sinkhole opened up on a plot of land leased by the petrochemical company Texas Brine, forcing an immediate evacuation of Bayou Corne's 350 residents—an exodus that still has no end in sight. Last week, Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the company and the principal landowner, Occidental Chemical Corporation, for damages stemming from the cavern collapse.
The article by Tim Murphy at Mother Jones is excellent, one of the best of the accounts I've read of the events that led up to the sinkhole collapse, its increase in size, and the consequences that followed for the people who live or once lived in the area.  Since south Louisiana sits upon many hollowed-out salt caverns, which are often used to store natural gas and oil, with some of the oil containing radioactive materials, the question is not if, but when a similar disaster will happen.

Lax regulation and lack of oversight of the dangerous operations of oil and gas and chemical companies here in Louisiana contribute to the number of disasters.  When will we have had enough of the disasters to pass more rigorous safety regulations and provide timely inspections and stiffer penalties for companies who break safety rules?  When will we have had enough to get serious here in Louisiana about research and development in clean energy sources and provision of tax incentives for businesses that provide clean energy and for factories that manufacture equipment for use in supplying clean energy?  

I'm not holding my breath.


 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WHO WOULD EVER HAVE EXPECTED...?



BP officials are objecting to the state’s decision to close waters around Grand Terre to fishing after a 40,000-pound tar mat was unearthed in the surf just off the island.


Grand Terre is an uninhabited barrier island east of Grand Isle. The tar mat, which was 165 feet long by 65 feet wide, was about 85 percent sand, shells and water, and 15 percent oil. It was removed over a period of a few weeks.

The state issued the closure Friday, a few days after reports of the massive tar mat took off in the media. According to state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials, all commercial fishing is prohibited in closed waters off Grand Terre. Recreational fishing is limited to rod and reel fishing and charter boat tours.
....

BP claims the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issued the fisheries closure without explaining its reasons or offering data to show the closure is needed.
....

[Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert] Barham said that the state will continue to close fishing grounds when oil is discovered. He added that according to the most recent federal estimates, up to 1 million barrels of BP oil remains unaccounted for in the Gulf.
Hey!  The huge tar mat is only 15% oil.  What's the problem?

BP is impatient and wants to be done with its responsibility for the Maconda oil gusher, but - dammit! - oil keeps turning up in the Gulf.  When will the nightmare will be over for BP?  I expect long before the 1 million barrels are accounted for.  When will the nightmare be over in the Gulf of Mexico?  Who knows?  Maybe never.

Tony Hayward, BP CEO, on May 13, 2010, eight days after the Maconda well explosion.
The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.
The gift that keeps on giving.  Thanks, BP.

Photo from SierraActivist.

Monday, July 1, 2013

IT'S NOT THE GUNS - PARTS 6 AND 7

A teenager in Marrero died Sunday after being shot in what the shooter said was an accident.

Christian Cardon, 23, told investigators he didn’t know there was a bullet in the chamber of his new AR-15 semi-automatic rifle when he pulled the trigger early Sunday morning.

A single shot fired, striking 16-year-old Trey Stahl, of Marrero, in the neck, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.

Stahl was pronounced dead at the scene, Fortunato said.

Cardon, 23, 1718 Gulf Drive, Gretna, was booked into Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on one count of negligent homicide.
....

It was the second time in a week that a child has been killed in what authorities are calling accidental shootings.

Brandajah Smith, 5, shot herself in the head with a .38 caliber gun June 23 after her mother left her locked and alone in her house on North Galvez Street.

Brandajah’s mother, Laderika Smith, 28, a convicted thief and prostitute, was booked with second-degree murder in the child’s death.
....

Louisiana has the nation’s second-highest rate of childhood gun deaths, after Alaska. In 10 years, more than 1,000 children were killed by bullets in the state — 739 were murdered, 224 committed suicide and 89 were killed accidentally.
In a country with weak firearm laws and a state with some of the weakest gun laws in the country, is it any wonder that the accidental shootings are all too frequent?  The National Rifle Association blathers on about the mentally ill with access to guns, lack of enforcement of present weak gun laws, and the warning that enactment of stronger gun control laws will result in only criminals having guns.  But what's the NRA's solution for stupid and irresponsible people who own guns?  I'd guess the group would suggest their usual solution - more guns with fewer restraints.  How many deaths will it take to bring us to our senses?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

WHERE LOUISIANA'S VOUCHER MONEY GOES, OR IS OUR CHILDREN LEARNING?

Brilliant post by CenLamar exposing the lack of responsibility and oversight of the school voucher program, a pet project of Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent of Education, John White, part of a plan to destroy public education in Louisiana.
Yesterday, after more than a year of sustained criticism in the state, national, and even international media, Louisiana Superintendent John White (no relation) announced the Department of Education was banning the New Living Word School in Ruston, Louisiana from participating in the so-called Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (the SSEEP), more commonly known as the school voucher program. Under the direction of Governor Bobby Jindal and the majority Republican state legislature, Superintendent White is responsible for rolling out and implementing the most expansive school voucher program in the nation’s history, a program that potentially qualifies as many as 56% of Louisiana students.
Read it all, and weep for the children of Louisiana.  Note especially the leaked email from White to "muddy up the narrative," rather than deal with the revelations about the inadequacies of New Living Word School long before now.

Since the Louisiana State Legislature is responsible for enabling this type of scam, I blame them for supinely bowing before the governor to pass legislation allowing the mad voucher scheme to go forward.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

THAT'S OUR BOBBY

Funding for the disabled and arts programs fell out of the $25 billion state spending plan Friday with the stroke of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto pen.

The governor deleted $4 million aimed at whittling down a waiting list for home-based services for the developmentally disabled. Parents of disabled children pleaded with legislators during the session to shorten the list. Some could wait 10 years before receiving services.
....

After issuing the vetoes, the governor flew to California for Republican National Committee meetings.

Jindal also stripped money for children’s clinics, family violence programs and an organization that helps the disabled become more independent through technological tools.
Do your dirty work and run, Guvna.  You don't want to be in Louisiana, anyway.  The trail of wreckage you leave behind is so ugly that maybe even you don't want to look.  What's next once your term is up?  Since you have your eyes on a prize on the national scene, why not now?  Is there a powerful Republican out there who will make you an offer you can't refuse right at this moment?  Not every governor completes her/his term.  Take Sarah Palin.  I'm sure a good many people in Alaska thought, "Take Sarah Palin.  Please!" 

Friday, May 24, 2013

THE MIRACLE OF PRIVATIZATION

The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday.

That’s more than is in the current year’s budget — $955 million — for the state to operate the charity hospitals.

And more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.
Kristy Nicholls says that the state will benefit in the long run, but I'll hold my applause until a source outside the Jindal administration breaks down the figures. As you may or may not know, in Jindal's plan to ditch personal and business income taxes and make up the difference in sales taxes, the math did not compute. I'm not sure what method the administration uses, but the numbers don't always pan out as presented.  When Jindal realized that his tax plan was DOA in the Legislature, he withdrew the mess at the last minute.

Further on Medicaid expansion:
Even though governors and lawmakers in five Deep South states oppose a plan to cover more people through Medicaid under the health care overhaul, 62 percent of the people in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina support expanding the program, according to a new poll.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/21/4248364/public-in-deep-south-supports.html#storylink=cpy

The level of support for expanding Medicaid – the state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled – ranged from a low of 59 percent in Mississippi to a high of 65 percent in South Carolina, according to the poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a leading research and public policy think tank that focuses on African-Americans and other people of color.
....

But the five states in the poll, all led by Republican governors, have decided not to participate. Ironically, Mississippi and Louisiana rank dead last among all states in the overall health of their residents, according to America’s Health Ranking, an annual report by the United Health Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the insurer UnitedHealth Group.
There you have it.  The voice of the majority does not prevail, and many of the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi will go without health insurance, because their governors are ideologues who do not put the welfare of the citizens first.  Of course, when the governor has national ambitions, he has to keep one eye on the Tea Party and the other on Grover Norquist, with no third eye to look at the hardships he inflicts on the residents of his own state.

Thanks to Ann for the link to the poll.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/21/4248364/public-in-deep-south-supports.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"JINDAL SCRAPS TAX PLAN"

SOMETIMES WE WIN!

Gov. Bobby Jindal bowed to public sentiment Monday and shelved his plan to immediately eliminate income taxes and raise sales tax.

The governor admitted defeat on the first day of the legislative session during a speech to a joint gathering of the Louisiana House and Senate.

Jindal said he heard the complaints that he moved too fast and that his approach was not the best one.

House Democrats, religious leaders, public research groups, the business community and even the governor’s own accounting consultant found fault with his proposal to eliminate the state’s personal income and corporate taxes in favor of a higher state sales tax rate and a broadening of the sales tax base.

“Let me do something politicians don’t normally do,” Jindal said. “We’re going to adjust our course. We’re going to park our tax plan.”
Jindal's withdrawal of the plan demonstrates what citizens can accomplish by working together.  Hardly anyone except Jindal and his close advisers liked the tax plan, which was poorly crafted, with numbers that did not add up.   Perhaps Jindal and his inner circle have learned a lesson about opening up their planning process to outside advice, rather than operating in secrecy and holding plans close to the chest until the eleventh hour before the legislature convenes.  Still, Jindal and cohorts are crafty, so citizens must must remain vigilant and not let down the guard, for further nefarious schemes are likely to emerge.

The people of Louisiana have won only a reprieve from the negative consequences of Jindal's tax plan and are left with many problems still to be solved.  Political leaders in the state need to accept the reality of raising revenue to prevent further depredations on programs, institutions, and infrastructure than have already happened during the first term of the Jindal administration, but I doubt the will is there in either the governor or the legislature.  The repeated rounds of mid-year budget cuts because of faulty projections of revenue must be addressed to enable state programs and institutions to operate with a measure of stability.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

ON THE HOME FRONT IN LOUISIANA

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration quietly released a new financial analysis that estimates the state could save as much as $368 million over 10 years by expanding Louisiana’s Medicaid program under the federal health care law.

The analysis was posted on the state Department of Health and Hospitals’ website this week with no fanfare. The department hasn’t touted the findings, and they were mentioned only briefly — and with little detail — during a budget hearing in which lawmakers pushed for more information about the expansion and Jindal’s refusal to participate in it.
....

The new DHH estimates say Louisiana could save anywhere from $197 million to $368 million over 10 years while covering more than 577,000 additional people through Medicaid. The savings can be attributed to lessening existing state costs for providing health care to the uninsured, largely through the public hospital system.
Oops!  Note the quiet correction.  Let's not blow up this teensy-weensy mistake way out of proportion.  Now the only barrier to implementing the Medicaid expansion is the governor's ideology.
Jindal opposes the expansion as inappropriate growth of what he says is an inefficient government entitlement program.
And I'm sure the people in Louisiana who are denied health insurance coverage will understand perfectly that Jindal cannot violate his principles.  He and his family are comfortably covered, but the rest of the citizens in Louisiana, especially the families struggling on low wages, are not entitled to health insurance coverage from "an inefficient government entitlement program".   Damn those entitlements!

And about the governor's proposed tax plan to eliminate income taxes for individuals and businesses and replace the revenue with a sales tax, which will give Louisiana the highest sales taxes in the country:
The state’s largest business lobbying group warned Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday that his tax proposal is unacceptable to the business community.

Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, blamed problems with the plan on the Jindal administration drawing up the proposal in a very short period of time, resulting in a simple shift in tax burden.

“There’s got to be winners and there’s got to be losers,” Juneau said. “The business community has become the designated loser.”
Oops again!  I welcome any and all allies to stop the stinking pile of compost aka known as Jindal's tax plan or anything like it from making its way into law.  Those who have the means and live within a reasonable distance of a bordering state will leave Louisiana to shop for goods and services.  Those who do not have transportation will suffer.  Of course, the governor says the poor will be exempt from sales taxes, but, as the demand for exemptions pile up, the math will not work, if it ever did.  (See above on the costs of the Medicaid expansion.)  The Jindal administration is not known for superior math skills.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

LOUISIANA CLERGY SPEAK OUT ABOUT JINDAL SALES TAX PLAN

Bishop Morris Thompson
Religious leaders from across Louisiana complained Friday that the math behind Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax proposal is flawed.

Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith, a Shreveport-based religious organization, said the Jindal administration underestimated the expected tax burden on families by omitting part of a proposed state sales tax hike from calculations.

The Rev. Melvin Rushing
“This is about more than just numbers on a page. This is about integrity and people’s lives,” the Rev. Melvin Rushing, of Baton Rouge, said during a news conference at the State Capitol.

The Rev. Morris Thompson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana in New Orleans, said the governor should withdraw his sales tax proposal. He was among ministers from around the state drawing attention to the governor’s tax overhaul proposals.  (My emphasis)

“Our numbers are growing,” Thompson said. “Our voice of justice is being heard.”
The math doesn't add up.  The governor won't answer questions, nor will he give full details of the sales tax plan.   Jindal is known to hold details until the last minute, just before the vote, so that the legislators don't have time to do a proper review.  What could possibly go wrong if Jindal's plan becomes law?  Will the legislators once again submit meekly to the governor's wishes in a last minute rush?

Thanks be to God that the clergy in Louisiana are speaking out against the injustice and fuzzy math in Jindal's proposed tax policy.
[Tim Barfield, executive counsel for the state Department of Revenue,] concluded his statement by appearing to blame the ministers’ complaints on misinformation spread by the Louisiana Budget Project, which he called a liberal special interest group.
The liberals are out to get them.  But wait!  The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and The Council for A Better Louisiana are also critical of the plan.  They're all out to get you, Tim, but hang on and don't let paranoia get the best of you.  But wait again!  I had a thought: Does it ever cross your minds that it may not be "them", the people and groups who disagree with the tax plan, but perhaps the Jindal administration's plan on offer is just really, really bad? 

SECOND AMENDMENT FREEEEDOM!

AK-47
One of the strictest gun crimes on the books in Louisiana was ruled invalid Thursday by a New Orleans criminal court judge in the wake of the state’s powerful new “right to bear arms” provisions.

District Judge Darryl Derbigny ruled that the law prohibiting felons from carrying firearms violates Louisiana new “strict scrutiny” amendment to the state Constitution. The amendment, backed by heavy lobbying by the National Rifle Association, was adopted by a wide margin by voters last year and became effective Jan. 1.

The strict-scrutiny amendment makes gun ownership a fundamental right that can only be regulated by meeting a very narrow set of standards upon review by the state Supreme Court.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office immediately appealed Derbigny’s ruling, taking the case straight to the high court for a ruling.
Who says felons can't have their guns?  Well, they can here in Louisiana with our new constitutional  amendment requiring "strict scrutiny" for depriving anyone of the right to bear arms. So says the judge in New Orleans, and he may be right, according to the new law.  We'll see what the Louisiana Supreme Court decides.
The case before Derbigny involved a man who was caught with a .40-caliber pistol and AK-47. The man, Glen Draughter, previously had been convicted of a felony burglary charge.
Freeeedom! 

Regarding the push to arm employees in the schools, which we are told will prevent future shootings, I read yesterday that three people were killed at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.  The base is surely armed, and three people are dead.

May those who died rest in peace and rise in glory.  May God give comfort, consolation, and the peace that passes understanding to all who love them.

May God have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ABOUT THAT TAX PLAN, GOVERNOR JINDAL

Bishop Morris Thompson
Two groups of religious leaders from several faith traditions and denominations gathered at the Louisiana State Capitol on Monday to protest  Governor Bobby Jindal's latest tax plan to eliminate income tax for individuals and businesses and replace the lost revenue with a sales tax.  Neither the governor nor members of his staff met with the representatives of the two groups.  One of the groups published an open letter to the governor explaining the reasons for their objections to the tax plan.  Among the clergy who signed  the letter, I'm pleased to note the names of four Episcopal bishops in Louisiana - two serving bishops and two retired bishops, along with the names of other Episcopal clergy.

Bishop Jacob Owensby
The Rt. Rev'd. Morris K. Thompson, Jr., Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, PhD, DD, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana

Bishop Charles E. Jenkins, Retired Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

Bishop James B. Brown, Retired Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana
 
Bishop Charles Jenkins
The text of the letter:

March 18th, 2013
The Honorable Bobby Jindal, Governor
P. O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Dear Governor Jindal,

We, the undersigned members of the Louisiana Clergy, are writing to express our deep concern about the tax proposal you are proposing for the upcoming legislative session.
Bishop James B. Brown
We serve in many different faith traditions, across a broad spectrum of people and communities in this State. As diverse as these traditions may be, we find unity around a few fundamental ethical principles: fairness, a concern for the least of these and an obligation to make our voices heard when matters of justice are at stake.

Our concerns about the proposed tax plan are as follows.

First, we are concerned that Louisiana already has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation, putting a disproportionately high burden on low and moderate income families. Currently, families earning minimum wage (less than $16,000 per year) pay 10.6% of their income in state and local taxes; the average Louisiana family pays 10.1% of its income in taxes; while the wealthiest Louisiana families (earning over $1 million per year) pay only 4.6% of their income in state and local taxes. That is unacceptable, as a starting point.

Second, we are concerned that the reason we have such an unfair and regressive tax structure is our State's heavy reliance on the sales tax. It is universally recognized that sales taxes create a disproportionate burden on poor and moderate-income families, who spend nearly all they earn. Louisiana already has the 3rd highest sales tax rate in the nation.

Third, we are concerned that your tax plan seeks to increase our state's sales tax rates even further. Any increase in the sales tax would deepen the root causes behind the unfair and regressive nature of our state's tax structure and worsen the burden for poor and moderate income families in our community.

Fourth, we are concerned that your plan proposes to use the increased revenue generated by a heavier burden on poor and moderate income families, not to fund any of the important needs and services our State faces, but to decrease the tax burden for those members of our community who are most blessed with wealth and resources. That, too, is unacceptable.

Fifth, we are concerned that your proposed tax plan will be unsustainable over the long term. Historically, sales have grown much more slowly than personal income, in our State and across the country. Swapping income taxes for sales taxes replaces a faster-growing revenue source with a slower-growing revenue source. We worry that your proposal would be "revenue neutral" in its first year, but "revenue negative" over the longer term. If our State begins to rely even more heavily upon a slower-growing portion of our economy for revenue, we will face deficits and service cuts down the road that make our current ones seem small.

We believe that any proposed law that would increase the tax burden on low- and moderate-income families in order to decrease it for wealthy families must be judged an unjust law.
We believe that any proposed law that would threaten the long-term fiscal soundness of our State must be judged an unwise law.


Therefore, we ask you, in the full spirit of humility and faith, to develop a fundamentally different framework for tax reform.


To that end, we submit the following basic principles as guidelines for the kind of tax reform that would be just and in accord with the ethical frameworks of our faith traditions:


Principle #1) Tax reform should not increase the sales tax rate or take any other steps that make our tax structure more regressive than it is already;


Principle #2) New sources of revenue should be used, not merely to redistribute the tax burden from one group to another, but to invest in high priorities for our state, such as healthcare, education, human services and infrastructure, which have seen significant and far-reaching cuts in recent years; and


Principle #3) Tax reform should not replace a faster-growing revenue source with a slower-growing revenue source, thereby threatening our State's ability to afford important services and investments in the future.


We thank you for your serious consideration of these concerns. We would welcome the opportunity for a delegation of our leadership to meet with you to discuss these matters in more detail. We can be reached at LAfaithcommunity@gmail.com to schedule that meeting.


We pray that you, and all of us, may be blessed with the judgment to move forward in a spirit of wisdom and fairness on such an important matter to the lives and well-being of so many.


Yours faithfully,

--------------------------

View the signatories at the link above.
A second, unaffiliated faith-based group also came out against the governor's tax plan with a rally on the Capitol steps Monday afternoon. Led by the Micah Project, an affiliate of the interfaith community-organizing focused group PICO Louisiana, clergy denounced the proposal as benefiting wealthy Louisianians and corporations at the expense of the poor and middle class.

Referring to administration claims that a sales-tax based system would create a simpler tax code, the Rev. Chuck Andrus of Blessed Sacrement - St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in New Orleans said the tax system should take into account the needs of families in the state.

"We don't want what's simplest, we want what is just for our families," Andrus said.
I'm betting the governor will not meet with the clergy representatives, but I hope I'm wrong.  Jindal seems to listen to no one who does not already agree with his policies.  He surrounds himself with a closed circle of advisers and his supporters the legislature and hears only what he wants to hear.