News for Tuesday 043013
By Dave Graichen
The House Appropriations committee approves a spending plan for next fiscal year that does not contain any one-time money for recurring expenses. As written, removal of one-time dollars from the state's 24-billion dollar budget, means a 22-percent across the board reduction in funding for all state agencies, including higher education. . Higher Ed Commissioner Jim Purcell says such a reduction in funding for higher education next fiscal year would not be good for the state. The proposed budget for next fiscal year heads to the House floor, and it will be voted on May ninth.
After months of allegations, investigation, arguments and meetings, the Louisiana College Board of Trustees could decide Tuesday on whether Joe Aguillard will remain president of school. The 34-member board is expecting to hear competing motions — one that would terminate Aguillard and another that would that would affirm him as president. The vote is expected to be close.
The state's Legislative Auditor releases a report that finds the overall impact of the state's aggressive film & TV tax incentives are a lot less than many originally believed. For example, the state spent $197-million on tax credits for production projects in 2010 and received $27-million in tax revenue in return. Overall, the state has given up about $800-million in tax breaks for the movies over the past 5 years.
Deputies in Rapides Parish bust a drug suspect, who they say tried to stash his dope on the candy aisle of a convenience store. Sheriff's Lt. Tommy Carnline says officers were watching the area outside the store for drug activity. They saw a transaction and moved in to make the arrest, but the suspected ducked into the
store. Store workers pointed out that the suspect, Donald Hampton, put something on a shelf among the candy. It turned out to be crystal meth rocks.
In response to federal questions, state health officials scaled back their request for blanket approval of the supplemental Medicaid financing included in the private takeover of LSU hospitals. The state Department of Health and Hospitals has submitted only a request for approval of a deal involving Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called CMS, had asked numerous questions about an earlier broad-ranging submission to encompass all potential deals. Among the questions was how the state could propose a November 2012 effective date when no agreements had even been signed at that point.
LSU has released a written statement indicating running back Jeremy Hill has been suspended from the team after his arrest for battery last weekend. Coach Les Miles says he won't comment until the matter plays out through the legal system. Hill was busted after a fight at Reggie's Bar near the LSU campus and charged with simple battery. He was released on $500 bond. Hill was already on probation for a sexual encounter he admitted to with a 14 year old girl.
A House committee has approved a constitutional amendment to make it financially easier to pay one's sharply increased property taxes. Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley, of Lake Charles, authored the bill. He says he did so after hearing from homeowners who were hit with huge property tax increases. Kleckley proposes a three-year phase-in, if the tax increase is 15% or more over the previous year. It will need a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate before it could be sent to voters to
decide on the fall ballot.
The Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee supported a measure to repeal state tax credits for wind energy systems and to phase down tax breaks for solar energy systems. The program has cost far more than originally estimated, and lawmakers have been concerned about the price tag. House Bill 705 by state Rep. Erich Ponti of Baton Rouge, was approved without objection and heads next to the House floor for debate.
A bill aimed at limiting the finance charges on consumer litigation loans sparked heated debate in the state Senate Monday afternoon. State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said he filed Senate Bill 166 because people can end up paying way too much in fees when they borrow money ahead of an expected settlement. The loans have been compared to pay day loans. Critics contend that litigants borrow money that will be repaid once they receive a settlement but often end up paying exorbitant fees. The loans are promoted as a way for plaintiffs to stay in litigation while still paying their bills.
The LSU AgCenter says high prices and record yields for corn and soybeans drove Louisiana's agricultural economy to a record high of $11.4-billion last year. That's about 6.5 percent more than the 2011 amount of $10.7-billion.