News for Tuesday 120214
By Dave Graichen
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman from Marksville was found dead in her home early Sunday of an apparent stabbing. Deputies say they are looking for the victim’s husband, 48-year-old Dennis Williams as a person of interest in the death of 46-year-old Laura Williams.
In the final debate of the year, Democratic US-Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy brought out the big guns. The incumbent began by addressing the allegations claiming Cassidy was “double billing” by getting paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he did not perform. Landrieu continues to come under fire for using tax payer money to fund personal campaign charter flights. She calls the matter a bookkeeping error that has been paid back and is a much smaller issue than Cassidy’s alleged double subsidies. Political pendants are on the fence over who won the debate. Most believe it will have little effect on Saturday’s election.
Analysts are reporting there’s a chance gas prices could drop below $2 a gallon in Louisiana. Gasbuddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski says, in light of recent events, he could see some station’s price dropping below $2, but is skeptical that the statewide average will drop that low. Laskoski says you could expect to see gas prices drop another 15 to 20 cents a gallon over the next couple of weeks if crude oil prices stay as low as they are.
Oil prices are down to 70-dollars a barrel which is not good for the state’s budget, because it means lower revenues from severance taxes and mineral royalties. Chief economist for the Louisiana Fiscal office, Greg Albrecht, says they already adjusted the state’s revenue picture downward. Albrecht says if oil prices keep trading for about 70-dollars a barrel for a lengthy period of time, it will cost the state millions of dollars in revenues. Albrect says the Revenue Estimating Conference will likely meet again next month to assess the situation.
Medicaid expenditures here in Louisiana have increased by more than $900 million since 2012 amid the move to privatization, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday. Expenditures remained fairly consistent from 2010 through 2012 remaining in the $6.6 billion to $6.8 billion range, the report said. But the spending jumped to $7.57 billion by fiscal year 2014 which ended June 30. Included is a net increase of $600 million related to Bayou Health spending, the private health insurance program handling health care for more than 900,000 of Medicaid’s 1.4 million recipients. In addition, there has been an estimated $350 million increase in payments for care of the uninsured to private operators of LSU hospitals.
US-Senator Mary Landrieu is claiming her opponent Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he didn’t do. She also says members of Congress are only allowed to make $26,000 a year in outside work. Cassidy was paid $50,000 per year. In a statement, Cassidy says he’s proud of his work in the LSU System and these allegations are just an attempt by Landrieu to salvage her political career. LSU announced Monday afternoon their intensions to investigate the part-time employment of the congressman.
US Senator David Vitter, who is running for governor next year, has changed his stance regarding Common Core. Vitter said four months ago that he supports the multistate educational standards, but in an email to supporters Monday, the Senator says he’s changed his mind after hearing from parents and teachers. He says Louisiana should establish its own standards and testing.
A quiet 2014 hurricane season came to an end over the weekend. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there were only 8 named storms which is the fewest since 1997. He says this is the ninth straight year we didn’t have a major hurricane hit the US Coastline, the longest such streak since records were kept. He says we can attribute the quiet season to lower than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says 221-thousand voters casted ballots during the early voting period that ended Saturday. Schedler says the heaviest voter turnout areas were East Baton Rouge, Orleans and St. Tammany Parishes. The run-off election is Saturday.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are still looking for two men they believe abducted and shot a woman on Thanksgiving Day. Spokesman Sergeant Clay Higgins says the victim reported she left her house that morning to walk to a nearby store when she accepted a ride from the suspects. Higgins says the 49-year-old Opelousas woman thought the men offering the ride were just being friendly on the Thanksgiving morning in her own neighborhood known as “The Hill.” However, That ended up not being the case.