Governor flies to D.C. to attend convention

Gov. Bobby Jindal followed up the announcement that the state needs to make deep budget cuts by flying to Washington, D.C., for the U.S.-Azerbaijan Convention.

The governor’s press office said Jindal would address the convention Wednesday and then return to Baton Rouge.

Azerbaijan is a republic in the region of Eurasia.

According to a description of the convention, the event will focus on trade and energy relations as well as the promotion of culture and tolerance.

Hornets’ tax break bill comes up short

Legislation that would have given the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets $54 million in tax breaks through 2029 came up short of the votes for Louisiana House passage Wednesday.

The House voted 49-46 for the measure. Fifty-three votes were required for passage.

The legislation’s sponsor, state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans, said he would seek another vote later in the legislative session.

House Bill 1072 would give the professional basketball team a $3.65 million annual tax break through the state’s Quality Jobs Program. The breaks are allowed under current law for five years and then subject to renewal for another five years on achievement of certain performance by the business.

HB1072 would allow the break to continue for the Hornets for the duration of its contract with the state for use of the New Orleans Arena. The contract runs through 2024 with a five-year renewal potential.

Henry said the Quality Jobs tax break would be the only incentive payment under new contract terms.

Henry promoted the legislation as an economic win for the state with the Hornets presence generating $88.2 million annually in direct spending and another $49 million in secondary spending. He said the franchise is responsible for 1,600 direct jobs.

Opponents cited the state’s dire financial situation, with a $211 million hole in the current fiscal year’s budget and $300 million less than expected to spend in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“We are robbing pension funds. We are bleeding our schools. We are closing clinics and hospitals. We are abandoning roads in our rural areas. We have trouble getting clean drinking water to our residents. But we keep paying for sports teams,” said state Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin.

Compiled by

Capitol news bureau