Friday, Oct. 18

Friday, Oct. 18

The safety net: helping more than just the poor; Ousted levee board member will continue oil and gas suit; New construction projects to be funded with money from current projects; Gov. Jindal turns focus to national ‘war of ideas’; and Term limits don’t necessarily improve state government. 10 - The percent of the federal government benefits that goes to the wealthiest 20 percent of households. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

The safety net: helping more than just the poor
Those who live in the poorest 20 percent of households receive about 32 percent of government benefits, a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds. “The safety net became much more work-based,” the report says. “In addition, the U.S. population is aging, which raises the share of benefits going to seniors and people with disabilities.” The study also found the distribution of benefits tends to line up better with U.S. population demographics than with poverty demographics. According to the New York Times, “African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of the poor, receive 14 percent of government benefits, close to their 12 percent population share. White non-Hispanics, who make up 42 percent of the poor, receive 69 percent of government benefits – again, much closer to their 64 percent population share.”

Ousted levee board member will continue oil and gas suit
Despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to replace him on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East board, John Barry said he will form an “independent third party entity” to continue the board’s efforts to get 97 oil and gas companies to pay for reconstruction along Louisiana’s coast. He said he believes the group will make a priority of supporting the oil and gas lawsuit involving damage to the state’s coastal wetlands. However, he added, he envisions it addressing other oil and gas industry environmental issues anywhere in the state.

New construction projects to be funded with money from current projects
Treasury Secretary John Kennedy is questioning Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration for taking $80 million from current construction projects to pay for $105 million worth of new projects. “On July 17, you came to us and you had these same projects and you said every one of these was shovel-ready and every one of these was a top priority. Now, a few months later, none of them are shovel-ready and none of them are a priority. What changed between then and now?” Kennedy said. State facilities director Mark Moses said some of the projects had more money than they needed and had slowed due to the loss of other funding. “It’s not that the other projects are more important. It’s just based on the cash flow,” said Moses.

Gov. Jindal turns focus to national ‘war of ideas’
Instead of looking for ways to slow the bleeding from Louisiana’s bloated tax exemption budget, reverse the state’s harmful cuts to education, or allow all Louisianans access to private health insurance, or even improve wages for Louisiana workers, Gov. Bobby Jindal is forming a think tank to wage a “war of ideas” on a national level. According to Politico, “As he seriously considers a run for president in 2016, the 501(c)(4) could help Jindal bolster his bona fides as one of the party’s intellectual leaders and give him a fresh national platform as his term leading the Republican Governors Association ends next month.” Among the policy prescriptions Gov. Jindal mentioned were “blowing up the tax code” — known here in Louisiana as shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to low- and middle-income families — and offering an alternative to Obamacare — which here meant doubling down on the charity hospital system.

Term limits don’t necessarily improve state government
While people speculate about term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal’s future aspirations, Nola.com took a look at how term limits — enacted in 1995 — have affected the state government as a whole. “…[T]he restrictions on legislative service haven’t exactly lived up to what was promised. Elected officials have still found ways to stay in state government well beyond the 12-year restriction, and critics say a loss of institutional knowledge in the Legislature, particularly in the state’s lower chamber, has weakened the body’s influence.”

10 - The percent of the federal government benefits that goes to the wealthiest 20 percent of households. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)