News for Monday 062518
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Legislature wrapped up its special session ahead of schedule on Sunday night. The thirds special session of the year ended with the passage of a sales tax proposal and final spending plan for the budget that begins July 1st. The state sales tax rate will go from 5 percent to 4.45 percent on July 1 through 2025. The nearly $480 million generated annually in the process of keeping a portion of the sales tax hike will go to fund TOPS scholarships, college and university funding, social services, public safety and other state programs that had not been funded.
A budget deal is on its way to the governor’s desk that fully funds higher ed, healthcare, and TOPS, and sets the state’s sales tax to 4.45 percent. The bill raises 466 million dollars and is set to expire in 2025. Mandeville Senator and Republican Jack Donahue, the bill’s cosponsor, says it’s the compromise the legislature needed to get a deal out the door. The budget uses 46 million dollars in one time BP money, removes some tax exemptions, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, and includes cuts to the Department of Corrections.
Governor John Bel Edwards celebrated the passage of the budget bill at the end of a grueling start to the year that saw four total sessions needed to solve the state’s impending fiscal cliff that’s been at the center of state politics since short term taxes were passed two years ago. Edwards congratulated lawmakers on keeping healthcare and education off the chopping block. Edwards, who is gearing up for what is expected to be a tough reelection battle in 2019, says the budget may not score anyone political points, but it does give the state stable finances for the next 7 years.
President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani is in Lafayette today to host a fundraiser for Republican Congressional candidate Josh Guillory, who is seeking to unseat GOP Representative Clay Higgins this fall. Meanwhile, President Trump endorsed Higgins. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says it’s a bizarre set of circumstance. Giuliani is likely supporting Guillory, because his girlfriend, Jennifer LeBlanc, is the campaign finance chair for Guillory’s campaign. But Pinsonat says Giuliani should have thought twice before participating in this fundraiser…
US Senator John Kennedy says he’s attached an amendment to an appropriations bill that will end the practice of federal employees flying first class on the taxpayers dime, unless there’s a legitimate medical or security reason. In a report released last March, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt allegedly spent 105-thousand dollars on first class flights in his first year on the job.
A group of Republican US Senators will head to Russia this week, including Louisiana’s John Kennedy. Kennedy says he wants to establish some rapport with high-ranking government officials and he hopes one of those meetings will include Russian President Valdimir Putin. Kennedy says he intends to discuss the allegations of election interference in the US and other countries through the use of social media, a claim he says Russian denies.
A US Supreme Court ruling gives states the authority to receive sales tax revenues on purchases made by consumers with a business that has no physical presence in that state. However, Tax Foundation spokesperson John Buhl says Louisiana’s sales tax laws are too complex for them to take advantage of this ruling. Even if Louisiana lines itself up to collect, creating the logistics to do so will not be a quick task
A Shreveport police Corporal Marcus Hines is on administrative leave after he accidentally fired his department-issued gun while teach two summer interns about gun safety. No one was injured in the incident.
A Hammond Police officer suffered a gunshot wound to the foot while attempting to load his shotgun into his patrol car. Police Chief James Stewart says the officer dropped the weapon and it went off.
Two teenagers are now facing negligent homicide charges for their role in the death of 18-year-old Delicia Ceasor of Jonesville. Ceasor died in a car crash in Catahoula Parish on March 22nd. State Police Troopers have determined a 17-year-old driver and another driver, 19-year-old Victor Barber were drag racing and traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour when the crash happened.
Miss Heart of Pilot Holli' Conway was named Miss Louisiana 2018 on Saturday night in Monroe. She will represent the state for the coming year and go on to compete for the title of Miss America in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
There is more good news for LSU on the football recruiting front, as the Tigers received a verbal commitment from four-star quarterback Peter Parrish. He is ranked as the 11th best dual-threat QB in the 2019 recruiting class.
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