More so than in previous fiscal sessions, balancing the budget will dominate legislators’ eight and a half weeks in Baton Rouge. Business interests and other groups appear to have taken the cue not to push controversial legislation, while lawmakers grapple with funding issues and policy questions to address the anticipated fiscal cliff, mainly caused by decreased federal funds. The exceptions amount to a few policy items on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s agenda dealing with higher education, including a single governing board, the merger of Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, and a new round of tuition increases. Even the governor’s proposed sale of three prisons, which has generated the most opposition, is linked to $86 million in college funding.
— Rep. Bodi White, R-Central, says he will consider running for a new Senate seat based in East Baton Rouge Parish. As drawn in the redistricting session, Senate District 6 forms an inverted U, from the eastern side of East Baton Rouge Parish, across a strip of Livingston and St. Helena parishes, to Hammond and Ponchatoula in southern Tangipahoa Parish. About 60% of voters are in East Baton Rouge. “I live right in the middle (of the Baton Rouge portion),” says White. “I studied it and rode it, but I’m not committed to do it now.” He plans a visit to Tangipahoa Parish, where he has a strong connection as a graduate of SLU.
They said it: “Your report was the gold standard, but it landed with a thud.” —Aaron Viles, of Gulf Restoration Network, on the Oil Spill Commission report, in The Times-Picayune
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)