News for Wednesday 012016
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at the Capitol Tuesday to announce the administration’s options to fix the state’s $750 million dollar shortfall for this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says they’re proposing tapping the rainy day fund for 128 million dollars, and raising the sales tax by 1% beginning April 1st. Edwards anticipates calling a special session on February 14th and have it last until March 4th.It’s estimated Louisiana also faces a $1.9 billion dollar deficit in the 2016-2017 operating budget.
The investigation continues in to the weekend crash that claimed the life of a Tioga man. The Pineville PD reports 49 year old Christopher Robertson was traveling northbound on highway 165 by the entrance of Kings Country shopping center when a Pickup turned directly in his path. Robertson died a short time later. The driver of the pickup, Roy Weaver, has been charged with failure to yield.
US Congressman Ralph Abraham is upset with the Department of Veteran Affair’s choice to lead health care operations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Skye McDougall has been appointed to oversee medical centers in Alexandria, Shreveport and New Orleans. Abraham says McDougall provided false testimony about four day wait times at V-A centers in Los Angeles. VA officials have defended McDougall’s testimony.
The artists performing at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Snoop Dog and many more. The lineup at nojazzfest.com, announced this morning, includes the individual days each artist will perform the 7 dates between, April 22nd through May 1st.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says the worst of the current influenza season is still to come and they encourage everyone to get a flu shot. Immunization Director Dr. Frank Welch says it’s fortunate that flu season has been very slow, to date, in Louisiana. Welch says doctor visits for flu-like symptoms in the state are down around 50-percent from this time last year. But, flu activity is increasing in other parts of the country and it’s only a matter of time before it hits Louisiana. Welch says they expect flu activity to increase in the state over the next couple of weeks.
Gas prices continue to fall all across Louisiana. GasBuddy-dot-com reports that the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped six cents in the past week. Spokesperson Gregg Laskoski says Louisiana’s average price per gallon has fallen to $1.67. He says falling gas prices are a direct result of the rapid drop in crude oil prices. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude has plunged below $30 a barrel as a result of the lifting of sanctions against Iran, which will add more oil to an already glutted market. Laskoski says oil prices could drop even further.
The rising Mississippi River has crested Baton Rouge at a slightly lower than expected level of 43.3 feet. But officials said Monday the high water is expected to stick around for a while. The river will continue to slowly drop over the coming weeks until it’s below flood stage of 35 feet at Baton Rouge in the second week of February.
An Lamborghini belonging to David Mahler, owner of H&O Investments, was found in flames in front of the firm’s Baton Rouge office Tuesday. H&O was the original contractor that the city of New Orleans hired to remove Confederate statues, but death threats prompted H&O to withdraw from the contract. Mahler’s attorneys say the threats and the car torching are being aggressively investigated.
According to the personal finance website WalletHub, it costs less to smoke in Louisiana than in any other state. The report, The True Cost of Smoking By State, finds one resident in Louisiana spends about $24,000 a year in smoking-related costs. WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez says it’s based on societal and economic factors. She says the out of pocket expense for a smoker in Louisiana who picks up a pack a day is about $1700 a year
The ex-mayor of Sorrento has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and animal cruelty charges — in exchange for a 40 year sentence. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was initially arrested in 2014 after his home was raided and the illegal images were found. Spokesperson for the 23rd District Attorney’s says the videos found at Longanecker’s Sorrento home involved minor girls, some as young as three years old