politics

This week on Le Show, Harry Shearer pays tribute to the brilliant satirist, Stan Freberg, and also to Harry's "Nixon's the One" co-writer, Stanley Kutler.

Louisiana’s House Appropriations Committee has been asking every agency to present their worst-case scenario when showing up for budget hearings. Wednesday, the committee got the grim prognosis—full force—from higher education.

“Higher education would be reduced by $600-million. That’s an 82-percent reduction from 14-15,” legislative budget analyst Willis Brewer stated.

The budget is the big issue when the legislature convenes next week, and the administration is placing heavy emphasis on GEMS initiatives.

“GEMS” is the acronym for Government Efficiencies Management Support”, which is the title of the efficiency report commissioned last year from the consulting firm of Alvarez and Marsal. Although the report wasn’t delivered till the very end of last year’s session, lawmakers were loudly skeptical of the cost of the contract to provide the report, and the savings promised by Alvarez and Marsal.

On this week's Le Show with Harry Shearer — Nixon in Heaven: Lowballing Casa Pacifica, Our Freedom-loving Friends, News of the Warm, News of Inspectors General, The Apologies of the Week, and more!

The Louisiana survey takes the pulse of the people every year about major policy issues facing the state. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab has been rolling out the results of this year’s edition.

Research Director Michael Henderson agrees public opinion is leaving lawmakers between a rock and a hard place when it comes to closing the state budget hole. As for state services, the public gives the colleges and universities particularly high marks. And though a majority still opposes it, there's slowly growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.


Taming TOPS

Apr 2, 2015

It happens every session: lawmakers, seeing the quarter of a billion dollar price tag on TOPS, look for ways to tweak the college scholarship program. This time, they might succeed.

“By establishing a ‘baseline’ tuition, future tuition increases will not be reflected in the state budget,” says Senate Finance committee chairman Jack Donahue, who is the author of Senate Bill 48. “This will allow the legislature to do a better job predicting the overall cost.

Common Core: Blame Lies With Name?

Apr 1, 2015

A poll conducted by LSU finds that state residents largely oppose education standards that are called Common Core, but support the overall concept.  

Results showed that only 39 percent of respondents said they support Common Core.  

But LSU Public Policy Research Lab Director Dr. Michael Henderson says there was a significant difference when the question dropped the label. "When you ask about the same program, but take out the name, 67 percent support it," he said.

The House Appropriations committee combed through the Department of Corrections budget Tuesday, and testimony confirmed what many criminal justice reform advocates have long said: this state has the nation’s highest per capita incarceration rate.

Marrero Rep. Patrick Connick pitched the big question.

“The inmates, in 27 years, have increased 110 percent. And the population of Louisiana has increased 9 percent over the same period. How do you explain that?” Connick asked Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc.

Expenses for the governor's state police security detail have gone up under Gov. Bobby Jindal, as he travels across the country raising his profile for a possible presidential campaign.

Col. Mike Edmonson, the head of the Louisiana State Police, says his agency spent $2.2 million on travel expenses related to Jindal's protective detail this year.

He says that level has stayed consistent in recent years. But it's up from $1.5 million for former Gov. Kathleen Blanco and $1 million for former Gov. Mike Foster.

“You have to remember what you may be losing in the higher education system as you go into deeper cuts,” warns Public Affairs Research Council president Robert Travis Scott.

Scott addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday, focusing on PAR’s new report, “Innovation in Louisiana”, which analyzes state support for university research programs. Those programs bring in grant money up front, and licensing revenue from patents for years afterwards. Scott notes that continued state budget cuts to higher education are impacting the amounts and numbers of research grants Louisiana’s universities are able to access.

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