The Jindal administration is floating an idea, legislators are saying, of infusing private dollars into state college and universities, which are facing cuts of up to $300 million.
Under the scenario, the state would temporarily exchange some business tax breaks for tax credits on donations to higher education institutions. Mentioned are potential swaps involving the enterprise zone program and film industry tax credits.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has said he would not veto anything that is tax neutral. This would be a potential way to accomplish that and create money that could be used more immediately.
Enterprise zone is a jobs incentive program that reduces income and franchise taxes to a new or existing business that creates permanent, new full-time jobs and hires at least half those new employees from targeted groups. Louisiana’s Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit provides motion picture productions a 30 percent transferable tax credit on total in-state expenditures, including resident and nonresident labor, with no cap and a minimum spending requirement of $300,000. For productions using in-state labor, Louisiana offers an additional 5 percent payroll tax credit.
BESE member fuels Common Core debate
The newest member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education wasted no time wading into controversy.
In her first meeting of the full board, Mary Harris, of Shreveport, tried to reopen debate on the always volatile issue of Common Core, which triggered hours of discussion on the board in 2014.
Harris made a motion to send a little noticed resolution by the Caddo Parish School Board asking BESE to delay Common Core tests into a BESE committee for a full-scale debate in March.
BESE member Lottie Beebe, who is superintendent of the St. Martin Parish school system, backed the effort and said educators statewide are concerned about the exams.
Holly Boffy, a BESE member who lives in Youngsville, opposed Harris’ effort. Boffy said another such debate over testing plans made no sense.
State Superintendent of Education John White, one of the state’s top backers of Common Core, said Harris’ request would put the issue up for discussion one week before about 300,000 students are supposed to take the tests.
The motion failed 4-7.
Harris was named recently by Gov. Bobby Jindal to serve out the unexpired term of former BESE member Walter Lee.
Vitter: First governor forum ‘very civil’
How polite was the first forum of the 2015 run for governor?
“These three men are genuinely good people,” said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., in his closing remarks of a two-hour gathering.
Vtiter was referring to fellow Republicans Jay Dardenne, who is lieutenant governor, Scott Angelle, a member of the Public Service Commission, and Democrat John Bel Edwards, a member of the state House.
Edwards made a similar comment.
“I appreciate the fact it has been very civil,” he said of the meeting, which focused on state highway, bridge and other infrastructure needs. The forum featured all four contenders seated side by side on a hotel ballroom stage.
“If you get us any closer up here you might as well put us in one bed,” Angelle joked.
Dardenne got a big laugh at the forum after listening to Vitter recite his influence on federal transportation issues in Washington, D.C.
“That is precisely why we want you to stay,” Dardenne said.
Vitter laughed, too.
“I take the compliment but not the suggestion,” he said.
More than 1,000 assault kits untested
There are more than 1,000 untested sexual assault kits in the possession of law enforcement and health care facilities around Louisiana, based on information reported to State Police.
According to the report, 1,069 sexual assault kits remain untested at law enforcement and criminal justice agencies and 94 untested pediatric kits are being held at health care facilities.
“Establishing a firm number of the untested kits is only the first step in finding justice for victims of sexual assault,” said state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, who pushed for the reporting.
Morrell said he is working on legislation to address the problem of untested kits as well as sexual assault cases on college campuses.
State spending nearly $250K on elections
The state is spending $242,000 for upcoming special elections to fill Louisiana House vacancies.
The cost would be greater except that only one candidate qualified for an open House seat in northwestern Louisiana, negating the need for an election there.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, called the special elections so new representatives can be seated by the April 13 start of the 2015 Legislature.
The election to fill a seat vacated by state Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Jeanerette, will be settled Feb. 21 because there are only two people running. Elections to fill vacancies created by the resignations of state Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, and Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria, are like to go into runoffs March 28 — adding to costs.
Jindal appoints nurse to commission
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office announced the appointment of Lake Charles nurse Kimberly Dellafosse to the state Civil Service Commission.
Dellafosse works as a clinical nurse specialist at Christus St. Patrick Hospital and owns Crimson Media Enterprises.
The seven-member Civil Service Commission oversees state employment personnel practices for the classified, rank-and-file workforce.
The governor appoints six members from nominations submitted by the presidents of Louisiana’s major private universities. The seventh is elected by state employees statewide. At least one member must be from each congressional district.
Dellafosse replaces Sidney Tobias Jr., of LaPlace, from the 3rd Congressional District.
Tobias’ term ended Dec. 10. He could not be reappointed because he no longer lives in the 3rd Congressional District after the redistricting that took place several years ago.
State Digital Media Archive launch Tuesday
The Louisiana Digital Media Archive is launching Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The archive is a collaborative project has preserved and catalogued more than 1,500 historical videos, including interviews with Louisiana civil rights heroes, notable political figures, war heroes, artists and literary icons.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting President Beth Courtney and Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler will launch the Digital Media Archive during ceremony at Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s Telecommunications Center, 7733 Perkins Road, in Baton Rouge.
BESE member Garvey to address Pachyderms
Jim Garvey, of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, will address the Pelican State Pachyderm Club on Tuesday.
He will be reviewing education issues and events from 2014 and looking at school performance for 2015.
The meeting is at the DoubleTree Hotel, 2150 Veterans Boulevard, near Williams, in Kenner.
Doors open at 6:15 p.m. The program and dinner begins at 7 p.m.
The cost for members is $25 and $35 for nonmembers.
Luncheon will focus on tax exemptions
This month’s Leaders With Vision luncheon Thursday will focus its discussion on the reduction and regulation of tax exemptions as the answer to balancing the budget.
The luncheon is open to the public and will be at Drusilla Place, Audubon Room, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge.
Doors open at 11:15 a.m. Lunch will be served at 11:40 a.m., and the program will begin promptly at noon.
Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers, which includes lunch and the program.
For information, call (225) 927-2255.
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