News for Monday 012918
By Dave Graichen
House Republican Caucus Chairman Lance Harris of Alexandria is still waiting on specifics from the Edwards administration on how to fix the fiscal cliff. The governor would like to call lawmakers into a special session, so changes can be made to our tax code to address a billion dollar shortfall. The governor is proposing a reduction in tax breaks for businesses as a way to bridge the one-billion-dollar budget deficit. But Harris says they should look at making more cuts in state spending first. Governor Edwards told legislators last week he’s made 600-million-dollars in cuts in his first two years in office. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says it’s time for the legislature to “put up or shut up” and present a proposal on where additional cuts need to be made.
Several of the nation’s largest corporations announced they are giving employees a bonus as a result of federal tax reform. Walmart, who employs tens of thousands of Louisianans, announced they are increasing bottom salaries from nine dollars to 11 dollars, and authorizing up to a thousand dollars in bonuses for employees.
Walmart has come under fire in recent years for paying workers poverty level wages. Making Change at Walmart Director of Communication Amy Ritter says Walmart’s thousand dollar bonus headline was fairly misleading. Since most employees will receive less than $400. Ritter says even with the pay increase, hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers will still be below the poverty line. She says the costs for impoverished workers falls back on the taxpayer…
Gretna telecommunications contractor Ronald Gasser was found guilty of manslaughter Friday night for fatally shooting ex-NFL pro Joe McKnight at a Terrytown intersection a little more than a year ago. A Jefferson Parish jury returned the verdict about 8 p.m. after more than seven hours of deliberations. Gasser now faces up to 40 years in prison. He would have faced mandatory life imprisonment if found guilty of second-degree murder, as charged. Sentencing will take place March 15th.
UL-Lafayette has been named one of the Top 25 in U.S. News and World Report’s list of, “Universities and Colleges Where Students are Eager to Enroll.” Coming in at No. 24, UL-Lafayette was the only school in Louisiana named to the list.
The Trump administration says they will speed up the approval of a key coastal restoration project. The agreement would reduce the permitting process for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project from five years to two. Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana spokesperson Jimmy Frederick says it’s a big win. The state intends to pay for much of the project using funds it received from BP after the 2010 oil spill.
It’s been a year of repairs, replacement and testing for the water system in the town of St. Joseph in Tensas Parish, but it appears it is about ready for public use again. A public health emergency was declared in late 2016 forbidding use of the water after high amounts of lead was discovered. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there has been a complete overhaul since then. The system is expected to be in full operation sometime in February.
The bodies of two adults and a child from West Feliciana Parish were found after their pontoon boat capsized while they were duck hunting early Sunday in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Authorities say the hunters had two boats and were using their pontoon boat as a duck blind. The pontoon capsized as the people were trying to step onto it, causing them to become trapped underneath. A dog also died during the accident.
Rough News for the New Orleans Pelicans. Even after a thrilling victory over the Rockets Friday night, All-Star Demarcus Cousins went down and ESPN reports is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Cousins was averaging 25.4 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists.