Maginnis: Outnumbered Democrats pick their fights
Arriving for their day at the Legislature, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha, clad in salmon and green, had no idea they were about to kill a bill. They dropped in on the House Education Committee as Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, was explaining legislation he was carrying for state colleges to allow them to impose a "stabilization" fee—up to $300 per full-time student—to offset continuing cuts in state funding. Broadwater and college leaders did not expect House Bill 1078 to win two-thirds House approval, but they sought to get it to the floor as a show of good faith in their ultimate quest to have funding cuts restored. With minimal Republican support expected, committee approval rested heavily on the panel's black members, who were said to be for the bill. AKA was about to change that. The author's presentation completed, Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, quickly challenged the bill's solution. Walking through the several recent rounds of budget cuts to colleges, matched with three straight years of tuition increases, Edwards concluded, "Rather than ever appropriating more money, we talk about putting it on students and their families." He further argued, "Education cannot be the key to breaking poverty if the people in poverty can't afford it." Heads were nodding and murmurs arising from the sorority women, as Edwards went for the kill: "It's ha-a-r-d for me in one year to guarantee Tom Benson money for the Hornets and then tell our students and families they have to pay more." "Amen!" rang out with a burst of applause from the AKA section. Read the full column here.
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)
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