Louisiana editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

August 5

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on Jindal takes heat for vetoes:

Doing the right thing, or at least arguably the right thing, Gov. Bobby Jindal took a black eye over line-item vetoes in the state budget. The added funds he cut would have helped the disabled and unfortunate in Louisiana.

Characteristically, Jindal responded to the criticism with a fact- and figure-filled letter to the editor about how many people are being served by programs such as at-home services for the developmentally disabled. The flashpoint was the line-item in the budget for $4 million that would have added 200 slots to a program that has a waiting list of about 10,000.

We think the governor is getting a bad rap, even if perhaps he could have worked his way around the problem and found $4 million.

The problem is that the Legislature, with a flourish of publicity, significantly changed the state budget originally proposed by Jindal. In the course of a contentious session, a budget was produced that the governor could live with, but it had some gaps in it.

Jindal has the responsibility by line-item vetoes to ensure a balanced budget.

The genesis of these vetoes was in the Legislature, which left the budget with what the governor called a $46 million hole in it. The governor was directed to find cuts in social services, and it’s not unreasonable to expect — as some savvier legislators might have anticipated — that he would cut program expansions with line-item vetoes.

While advocates for the disabled and critics of the governor — Democrats and Republicans — in the state House pushed for a veto session to reconsider the Jindal cuts, the Senate voted to block a veto session.

That does not mean, however, that the issue will go away, nor should it. Advocates for the disabled will continue to press lawmakers and the governor to do more for families that need help.

The programs that enable people to live more independent lives are important and this fracas next year might encourage the folks in the capitol to get together on more funding. A budget process that focuses on really getting to a balanced budget, instead of one with holes in it, would help the cause, we think.




August 2

American Press, Lake Charles, La., on state has serious issues assessing, collecting property taxes:

A couple of recent stories underscore the iniquity in how property is assessed and property taxes are collected in Louisiana.

Last month, the Louisiana State Auditor’s office blasted the Louisiana Tax Commission for not carrying out its responsibilities to see that residential property taxes are equitably assessed.

The office’s audit found that the five-person Tax Commission was rubber-stamping assessments without determining their accuracy and not ensuring that parish tax assessors were reappraising property every four years as required by law.

In its response, the Tax Commission said it did not have ultimate responsibility. But the commission’s stance appeared to soften when a spokesman for Gov. Bobby Jindal, who appoints the panel’s five members, weighed in. …

Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Dan Juneau pointed the finger at the governor while criticizing the Tax Commission. …

Through his spokesman, Jindal has said enough publicly. In private, though, he should take a page from New Orleans Saints Head coach Sean Payton’s playbook and tell his five appointees in unmistakably clear language to “do their jobs.”

In an unrelated matter that spotlights the inequity of assessments, Ascension Parish Tax Assessor Mert Smiley is pushing a campaign to raise $400,000 to buy technology that will help him identify property that has previously not been assessed in the parish.

Since taking office earlier this year, Smiley and his colleagues have identified more than 300 residential properties and more than 80 commercial properties that were not on the tax rolls. …

Property taxes are a necessary evil to fund local government services. However, they are particularly galling when they are not assessed or collected equitably.

That should be the goal of the Tax Commission and every tax assessor in the state.




August 5

The Courier, Houma, La., on getting your children vaccinated:

It seems like summer just began, but local schoolchildren are just a few short days from going back to class.

For parents, that means shopping for uniforms and school supplies, getting ready for a return to a rigid schedule and, for many of us, a trip to the doctor’s office or health clinic.

School kids must be vaccinated against several diseases, for their protection and for the protection of their classmates.

State law requires the following vaccines for children 4 or older entering kindergarten, pre-K or Head Start. …

While there is a process for being exempted from the vaccine requirement on the basis of medical or philosophical objections, the course is required for most children. And that is for the best. …

In addition to local doctors’ offices, vaccines are available at parish health clinics for those who qualify.

If you fail to vaccinate your children against the preventable diseases for which vaccines are readily available, not only will you leave your child vulnerable to infection, but his or her classmates will be at a higher risk of exposure.

Vaccines are simple and cheap, although the children on the receiving end of the shots might not think so.

The fact is, though, that your kids will be much better off if you take action now to protect them.

While there are some concerns about vaccines being connected to an increased risk of autism, the medical experts agree that that supposed link has been completely disproved.

So get your kids vaccinated. They will be happier in the long run, as will their classmates and teachers.



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