House Cuts to Education Harmful to Students

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a supplemental spending bill that contains a new set of budget cuts to education that are at best, irresponsible. These actions by the House should be particularly disturbing to those who care anything about education in our state.

It came in the debate over HB 122, a bill designed to make deeper cuts in the state budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30. The end result is that the legislation makes a total cut of 85 percent to the Department of Education’s remaining cash on hand for the current fiscal year. If that cut is actually made, this will be disastrous for Louisiana students.

The Department of Education has roughly $60.5 million left in the current fiscal year to pay all of its remaining expenses. The total proposed mid-year cut, including those added by HB 122, total $52 million. The net effect is that there are only two areas left in the department’s budget that can cover the size of that cut and both would be wiped out:  1) continued reimbursements to about 300 private schools throughout the state for activities required by law and payments that allow low-income students to attend those schools through Louisiana’s scholarship program, and 2) mandated student testing for the current school year.

The issue with testing is particularly troubling. State law requires that students in grades 3-11 be tested as part of Louisiana’s School Accountability System. That is the only measure we have to know how our students, schools and districts are performing and whether they are making academic progress. By making a deliberate and targeted cut of this magnitude at this time, lawmakers are effectively dismantling critical pieces of important education reforms that have yielded significant progress for students over the last 20 years.

At the same time they are playing into the hands of many in the education establishment who have worked for years to break down various aspects of Louisiana’s School Accountability System and hide from parents and the public the true performance of Louisiana students. And it flies directly in the face of those who say they want to teach our children to high academic standards, measure their performance, and use that information to help them succeed.

On top of that, at a time when we are already experiencing severe budget constraints, the failure to administer tests is a violation of federal law that puts into jeopardy approximately $500 million in federal revenues that flow directly into our schools. A large portion of those dollars are targeted to help students in high-poverty schools and those with special needs. It seems incomprehensible that any legislator would want to put any of those revenues at risk.

As for the scholarship program, the cut there is more of the “smoke and mirrors” game that many in the Legislature accused the prior administration of using. Scholarship dollars go directly to pay participating students’ tuition in non-public schools. These children are from low-income households who could never afford the tuition without the scholarship.

Taking away their scholarships in the middle of the second semester of the school year means they will have to leave their school, enroll in a public school and totally disrupt their education. It is disheartening to think the House would agree to a policy like that which would have such a negative impact on thousands of children. But beyond that, it saves no money. When those students enroll in a public school, the state will still have to pay that school to educate those children. It’s a “cut” that harms students, but it doesn’t save money.

Finally, there has been a lot of talk during this short legislative session of setting priorities and spending the few state dollars we have left on the things that are most important. Perhaps, because time is running short, many legislators didn’t fully understand what they were doing in making these particular cuts. But when money is tight, priorities are important and from CABL’s perspective, the education of our children should be one of the priorities at the very top of our list.

Time for A Reality Check

The general public might not pay a lot of attention to legislative sessions, but if you even make it sound like someone is going to mess with their TOPS scholarships or their football, that perks them up. Of course, despite the headlines about TOPS being cut or the football season somehow being threatened, those things were never really going to happen.

Some called them scare tactics. Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t, but they did get people’s attention, and that’s good. To some degree it’s important for everyone to understand the scope of what Louisiana is facing at this most critical time. One way you do that, unfortunately, is by talking about the worst-case scenario, because that’s the scenario that shows you how wide the chasm really is. It doesn’t mean that gap won’t be closed, but you do have to understand how wide that gap is.

It’s clear from a lot of the line of questioning coming from lawmakers that many of them do not and by extension neither does much of the public. But a few key points are worth making:

  1. The problem we are facing today has been seven years in the making. Declining oil prices have made the situation worse, but this day was always coming.
  2. We have been running a structural deficit since at least 2010. That means we have been spending more money than we have coming in and economists peg that at somewhere around $800-$900 million per year.
  3. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the key ones is that when we repealed a portion of the “Stelly Plan” several years ago, we reduced taxes in our state by upwards of $800 million. From a revenue side we have never recovered from that.
  4. On the spending side we never really made much in the way of structural changes during any of that time. We kept finding one-time money to fill most of that $800 million gap, but it wasn’t money that was coming in every year. It was money that came from all kinds of temporary infusions of cash. Now it’s mostly gone.
  5. There is a lot of talk about making structural changes in the way we spend our money and what we pay for. That’s good. But most of them don’t yield immediate savings. We should have started on those things five or six years ago when the budget problems started.

All that said, lawmakers have to do something in this special session and the question is what’s most likely to happen? It’s hard to say. From the initial lines of questioning it seems clear that lawmakers are not going to let any worst-case scenarios happen, but they’re not in a rush to raise additional revenues, either.

But because they can only deal with new revenues in a special session this year it creates problems. The administration’s plan is something of a three-step process – dealing with the  immediate cash crisis, putting together a plan for the next fiscal year and then proposing long-term solutions that would include more real and structural reform.

Thinking they can do all of that in three weeks, given the current level of discussion going on, seems difficult at best. And imagining that they would raise a significant level of taxes for next year in the special session, when they can’t work on structural budget issues and cuts until the regular session is looking like a clear disconnect, too.

Be that as it may, it seems fairly likely that they will indeed find some solution to the state’s most immediate needs. They have little choice. But the critical question is what will they do about the long-term crisis? Will they have the opportunity to begin looking at structural changes in the budget and somehow be able to align that with additional revenues? And if they do that will they also make some of the much-needed changes in Louisiana’s overall tax structure that will make it stronger and more competitive?

These are all important issues and right now time, the constitution and public opinion aren’t working in lawmaker’s favor. At some point, though, we as citizens and they as legislators need to come to three conclusions: 1) this budget crisis is real and it threatens some of the very foundations of our state, 2) we need to make permanent structural changes on the spending side and the revenue side that help ensure we won’t get into this situation again anytime soon, and 3) we need to do all of this while thinking what it is we really want our state to be.

Unfortunately, in the rhetoric one hears from some at the Capitol these days there seems to be a sense of tolerance for not just mediocrity, but outright inferiority.

You would think we could do better than that, but we’ll find out.

Budget Situation Gets Worse on Eve of Special Session

It didn’t take long after lawmakers left the state Capitol in June to figure out that declining oil prices and lower-than-expected revenue predictions were creating major problems for the budget they had just passed. So back in November they approved yet another round of mid-year cuts with the “nod, nod, wink, wink” expectation that would address the problem. Of course, it didn’t.

A month or so later, when the John Bel Edwards administration was still in transition mode, word began to get out that things were still bleaker than they thought. They eventually put a number on it and announced that for the current budget year that ends June 30 the state would be about $700-$750 million short of needed revenues to avoid a deficit. The number going forward for the 2016-17 fiscal year was a whopping $1.9 billion short of what would be needed.

Now, with the special session that’s supposed to fix the problem upon us, we find out that things are even worse than that. The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference met this week and further reduced its revenue projections for both this year and the next. The bottom line is that the short-term problem has now grown to about $850 million and the long-term shortfall looks more like something over $2 billion.

That’s a lot of money and it dwarfs all of the very significant budget problems the state has faced over the last seven years. The problem in the current fiscal year is the most immediate and, in many ways, the toughest nut to crack.

It wasn’t that long ago when the state was dealing with $800 million shortfalls for the entire year and that was considered big. Now we’re dealing with an $850 million shortfall that must be made up in the three or so months remaining in the fiscal year. Of course, the governor has proposed a plan to address the issue and because it includes new taxes across a wide spectrum of people and businesses it’s receiving a lot of pushback. That’s a natural reaction and it’s okay. Solving serious problems is a process, not an edict, and the governor’s proposal is the beginning of a process.

The real question is, what’s next? How will lawmakers react when they get into special session, what actions will they take and how serious will they be about resolving what has grown into a very real and serious problem? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. But there’s one thing we do know. Whatever we do, we have to get it right this time. We need to get through the immediate crisis, but we also need to make some difficult structural changes to our fiscal policy and our spending policy.

We have had hiring freezes, travel freezes, pay freezes and all sorts of other belt tightening measures. We have used just about every bit of one-time money we could find and sold just about every bit of state property we could put on the market. But we have failed to take a serious look at the systemic problem. We have done little in the way of making structural changes that actually alter the way we do things. We haven’t really changed anything.

We create new agencies and offices, but old ones never go away. We cut everyone across the board, but we don’t set priorities and invest in the things that are important.  We concentrate power, authority and a lot of spending at the state level when other states let local citizens handle those matters. And we plod along with a tax structure that doesn’t adequately support our needs. The list goes on.

All of those things are structural issues and it’s time to make a decision. Do we want to raise new revenues to continue everything just the way it is, or are we ready to consider changes that would strengthen our position for the future? Clearly Louisiana needs some source of additional stable revenues. But it also needs to take a serious look at how we spend our money and decide which of the many things we support with state dollars are really important state needs.

Ultimately, that’s what we elect state leaders to do and this time we need them to shoulder that important responsibility. With back-to-back legislative sessions bringing lawmakers to the Capitol for most of the next four months, now’s clearly the time to get started. Let’s hope they’re really serious when they talk about putting Louisiana first.

Panel Suggests Adjustments to Louisiana Academic Standards

For the last several  months, a special committee appointed  by BESE has been reviewing Louisiana’s academic standards. You remember them. Those standards that were supposed to be so controversial and the ones that we’ve been using successfully in our schools for the last two to three years.

The review panel was made up of sub-committees that included about 100 Louisiana educators recognized for their expertise in English and math at various grade levels from kindergarten through high school. They were joined by additional experts from the state’s universities.

Working diligently and going through every single standard, they recently made their final recommendations.  In all they suggested adjustments to 18-percent of the English standards and 26-percent of the math standards – changes to 21-percent of the standards, in all.

CABL, of course, has been a strong supporter of our current high academic standards. We believe that our standards should ensure that our students are ready for college and careers and should be comparable to high standards anywhere else in the country.  We totally oppose any effort to go backwards or diminish their rigor.

While we are still in the process of reviewing the recommended changes, we don’t believe they set us back. It appears that the vast majority of the changes are well thought out and being suggested for sincere educational reasons. For instance:

  • In many cases the committees changed wording to provide additional clarity and better describe exactly what the standard is.
  • Language that suggested what approaches educators might use to teach a standard or specific examples of texts or readings were usually removed.
  • Some standards were moved up or down a grade level as deemed appropriate to provide a smoother progression for students from one grade to the next.
  • New standards were developed for the earliest grades to help students learn how to count with money.

The question for CABL is not how many adjustments may or may not have been made to the standards. That’s incidental. What matters is, are they high-quality, do they maintain their current rigor, are they nationally competitive and do they prepare our students to go to college or get the training they need to have a good career?

From our initial review it appears that they do all of these things. We will continue to analyze the recommendations and seek input from experts, but as we move forward it’s important that citizens keep their eye on the things that matter.

Rest assured this entire issue will become politicized yet again. And, yes, some in the education establishment are already stirring the pot in ways that really do a disservice to teachers and parents. It’s unfortunate they would choose to do that, but they no doubt have their motivations.

That said, we have been through these standards wars for too long now. Students, teachers and parents are all adapting to the improvements we made in our standards and testing, just as we always knew they would. Indeed a recent headline in the Advocate newspaper was telling: “One Year after First Common Core Exams, this Year’s Tests Sparking Little Heat.”

Politics being politics we know some are coming to try to rekindle that heat, often for reasons that have more to do with other agendas than the standards.  Perhaps it’s just to be expected. But really, after all we’ve been though on this, isn’t it just time to move along?

What’s Next for Higher Ed?

While there’s no doubt that money and the budget were the two top issues in last year’s governor’s race, it’s also pretty clear that right up there with them was the plight of higher education. As it turns out, over the last week there has been a lot written about postsecondary education, and for those who want a better understanding of just where we stand after seven years of budget cuts and where we might be going in the near future they’re worth looking into.

The first is the report of the governor’s Higher Education Transition Committee which CABL is pleased to have served upon. The report is digestible in length and gives an overview of what’s happened in postsecondary education over the last several years and offers 14 recommendations for moving forward.

Some of the recommendations, necessarily, deal with the funding picture, but many move into policy directions centered around three primary topics: attainment, affordability and accountability. All three are critical. As the report states, “future investments in postsecondary education must not rebuild an outdated model,” and that’s the approach CABL believes we need to take for the future.

That would include such things as a new method of funding based more on performance and incentives, revised metrics to better track student success and transition to the workplace, improved connections between high school and postsecondary education to shorten time to a degree, and a stronger alignment to workforce needs.

The report also makes recommendations for making TOPS more sustainable, providing more need-based aid for low-income students and developing a stronger focus on innovation and research to help meet state and regional economic and workforce needs.

Interestingly, just as this report was coming out The Advocate newspaper launched a multi-part special series along the same lines called Cutting Class: An Inside Look at the State’s Crumbling Higher Education System and What Lies Ahead . To date, five parts have been published and they provide a comprehensive look at the state of higher education in Louisiana from a number of perspectives. Besides an overview of how budget cuts have impacted state colleges, it also looks at the rise in tuition and fees, the TOPS program, the future of LSU’s flagship agenda and what’s happened to the state’s historically black institutions.

The series paints a grim picture of the higher education scene in Louisiana, but it’s one citizens and policy makers need to be aware of. In our current financial environment change is coming to a lot of things and that includes postsecondary education. But it’s critical that we use whatever reinvestment will come to our colleges and universities when budget issues are addressed to drive positive change that focuses on student outcomes, broader access and meeting the overall needs of our state. These reports help put all of those things in perspective.

Thank you and Welcome to new CABL Members

CABL would like to thank and recognize some recent new members. We appreciate your support.

John Shires, Pro Engineering Consultants
Sabrina Heltz, BCBS
William Lemoine, Lemoine Companies
Robert Bond, Business First Bank
John Werner, Fishman Haygood

First Steps for Fixing the Budget

By now you’ve probably seen the list of options Governor John Bel Edwards has put forward to deal with the state’s ongoing budget issues. By any measure there’s not much to like in the solutions being offered to address an immediate $750 million budget shortfall that must be taken care of by June 30 or the $1.9 billion problem in next year’s budget.

Generally, the plan calls for tapping the Rainy Day Fund, yet again, redirecting non-coastal BP settlement payments and making cuts to some statutorily dedicated funds. Those are the things that don’t raise new revenues. But there are a number of things that do raise additional dollars and they run the gamut from an extra penny of state sales tax, additional tobacco taxes and increases in phone taxes, to a variety of tax increases on businesses.

It’s not a fun list to look at and it impacts every taxpayer in the state. But it reflects where we stand in Louisiana today. That’s not an endorsement, but it is an acknowledgment that after years of avoiding this day and making sure that the problem wouldn’t blow up until the beginning of a new governor’s administration, that day has finally arrived.

Now the debate really begins. The governor has put forward his ideas. Certainly, we will hear others from legislators and various business and interest groups. That’s good because we need all the ideas we can find to figure this out and make it work for the long term.

And we really have to think about the long term because we don’t need yet another temporary fix. In the process we also need to think about what we want our state to be, what services it should provide and what degree of quality and outcomes we expect. More than anything else it’s a time to get realistic.

If state government is doing things that we don’t think are important, we ought to quit doing them. If we have too many state museums or schools or parks or hospitals or state police or wildlife and fisheries agents or programs or services or whatever, we ought to get rid of what we don’t think we need.

Of course, we haven’t managed to do much of that over the last seven years, even with a fiscally conservative governor and Legislature and it would probably be wise to step back and ponder what that actually says about things.

The point is that we’re finally approaching ground zero on our budget. The good news, if there is any, is that with the options he has put forward Governor Edwards has set the stage for what could be some meaningful efforts at true fiscal reform and restructuring that the state desperately needs to better position us for the future.

The bad news, of course, is that it’s taken a crisis to get us to that point and most of the options are pretty ugly. But the bottom line is fairly simple. We have to do something, we need to appropriately address this problem and we need to get it right. Certainly there will be more cuts than those initially proposed and certainly not all of the revenue options the governor has put on the table will be implemented. That’s just the way things work.

But we have to start somewhere and now we know what the new governor’s starting point looks like. It’s also good to remember that all of this is a process, not a fait accompli. The Legislature and stakeholders of all varieties will also have a chance to weigh in, have their voices heard and offer their ideas. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

For the last several years there were complaints from all quarters that the budget was being balanced with “smoke and mirrors.” Now, we’re finally at the point where we have to confront what the smoke and mirrors were hiding. It’s a mess, but one we have to work together to clean up if we care anything about the future of our state.

CABL Leadership Louisiana Alumni Assuming New Leadership Roles

For the last two-and-a-half decades, CABL’s Leadership Louisiana program has worked to help current and emerging leaders from across Louisiana realize their potential to make a difference in their communities and for the state.

Today the program boasts more than 1,000 alumni, many of whom have truly made lasting impacts for the betterment of Louisiana. But this year in particular, the potential of Leadership to develop these leaders has never been more apparent.

It’s borne out by the outcomes of the 2015 state elections and a number of people who assumed key roles in the new administration of Governor John Bel Edwards. In just the last few months:

  • Five Leadership Louisiana alumni were elected to the Legislature.
  • Two were elected to BESE.
  • Four have taken positions on the new governor’s executive policy team.
  • Three have assumed cabinet-level positions in the new administration.
  • And one, Rep. Taylor Barras, was just elected Speaker-of-the-House of Representatives.

These are all high-level positions and they reflect the talents, commitment and leadership skills of a number of people who care passionately about our state. But they are just the most visible ones.

Every day alumni of the program are doing great things in their communities, whether as local council members, mayors, judges, nonprofit volunteers or civic leaders. They are making a difference in ways that are as broad and diverse as the individuals themselves.

CABL is proud to have been a part of this work for the last 26 years and we salute all of our alumni – those in highly-visible positions, as well as those who are quietly working for positive change. Their contributions are appreciated, they are real and our state and its communities and state are better because of their efforts.

Major Budget Issues Looming

New governors have inherited big budget messes before, but you have to go back awhile to remember one as daunting as the one currently facing John Bel Edwards and the new Legislature.

Just to cut to the chase, the word coming out now is that the shortfall in the current fiscal year’s budget, which ends June 30, is about $750 million. The shortfall for next year is about $1.9 billion. By any measure, given all the cuts and fiscal maneuvers we’ve already been through, that’s a big problem.

In some ways, the immediate problem of the $750 million shortfall in the current year is the more vexing and the window to deal with it is rapidly closing. The calendar tells much of the story. Governor-elect Edwards takes office next week. He has said he will call a special session in mid-February to address that major shortfall. The session will likely last two to three weeks, based on what’s currently being said.

Realistically, that means that whatever solution the Legislature and the new administration come up with won’t be finalized until the very end of that session. In the best-case scenario, that probably means the beginning of March. By that time, two-thirds of the fiscal year will be over. Agencies will have likely spent somewhere around two-thirds of their money. Cuts of that magnitude over the four months that are left of the budget year are virtually impossible to make without crippling higher education, health care and much of the rest of state government.

So what do you do? Well, that’s the $750 million question. Whatever it is, don’t expect it to be pretty. Using the crystal ball too much is probably somewhat hazardous, but we can also look to things that have been done in the past. Certainly, there will be some cuts. How deep they would go is unclear at best. Perhaps some funds that are currently dedicated could be tapped into for some of those cuts. Perhaps some of the tax credits or exemptions everyone has been talking about can be reversed to free up some additional revenues. Perhaps some expenses and even tax refunds could be delayed and pushed into the next fiscal year – not really good options. And perhaps we could see major furloughs of state employees.

But it’s hard to think that all of those things would happen or what could be pieced out of those options that would yield another $750 million. One almost has to think some new revenues would have to be generated from somewhere else, but that’s problematic, too. For one thing, it would seem because of the state’s current cash situation that the governor and Legislature would have to find something that generates money quickly.

That gets one thinking about things like sales taxes or so-called “sin taxes.” But those aren’t particularly great solutions either if you’re thinking about permanent fixes. The point is that whatever they come up with will likely be ugly and hopefully temporary.

Louisiana has to get its fiscal house in order. There’s no question about that. But the short-term options to fill the state’s revenue gap are extremely limited. Of course, we’ll have to wait to see what’s proposed, but it’s CABL’s hope that all of this will really be a two-step process. In step one, we come in and address the most immediate problems and stem the bleeding – however piecemeal that may be.

But in step two, we need to come back and revisit our tax structure with real fiscal reforms that may require additional revenues that are fair, keep Louisiana competitive with other states and position us for the future. That’s not an impossible task.

As far back as 1985, CABL was working with economists and tax experts to develop a framework for fiscal reform that did many of those things. Some of those reforms were enacted and those that became law did, in fact, improve our tax code. But they didn’t fix everything. Still, those same principles of reform from 30 years ago continue to drive new efforts that update that framework. They are evident in the recent work of Dr. Jim Richardson of LSU, who was one of the architects of that original framework, as well as strong ideas from PAR and the Committee of 100.

CABL is pleased to continue to partner with those groups and others to help advocate for permanent changes that will get Louisiana back on course. For seven years now, we have had to navigate the slippery slope of temporary fixes, use of one-time dollars, hikes in tuition and cuts to things we value that are crucial to the future of our state.

We need to stop that. It won’t happen in next month’s special session, but it can begin to happen sooner rather than later if we muster the political will to do what’s right for our state. We can’t afford to wait much longer.

Thank you and Welcome to new CABL Members

CABL would like to thank and recognize some recent new members. We appreciate your support.


Jim Ferguson, W. Feliciana Parish Government

Jody Montelaro, Entergy

Gwen Guillotte, The Picard Group

Dr. Alex Appeaning, LCTCS

James Callahan

Erick Knezek, Truston Tech.

Lane Ewing, Cazayoux Ewing

Dr. Brenda L. Babin, Busy Bee Clinic

– The latest jobs report from the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported that the Lake Charles regionhas the lowest unemployment in the state in the month of July (5.5%) . The Baton Rouge region had the second-lowest at 5.9% . Get more from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
– In 2014 100%of the total crawfish landings in U.S. occurred in Louisiana. Over 13 million pounds of crawfish were caught in Louisiana with a total value of over $16 million.
– The latest jobs report from the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported that the Lake Charles regionhas the lowest unemployment in the state in the month of July (5.5%) . The Baton Rouge region had the second-lowest at 5.9% . Get more from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
– In 2014 100%of the total crawfish landings in U.S. occurred in Louisiana. Over 13 million pounds of crawfish were caught in Louisiana with a total value of over $16 million.
– The LSU AgCenter estimates that the floods in south Louisiana have caused at least $110 million worth ofdamage to agriculture.
– More than 115,000 people across south Louisiana have signed up for federal disaster assistance after the catastrophic flooding .
– In Louisiana, there are 859,738 people (18.4%) per month on Food Stamps, which is the 6th highestranked percentage in the U.S.
Forty-seven Percent of children in Louisiana live in a single-parent household, the highest percentage in the country. Get more from Kids Count 2016 .
– The number of Louisiana high school students receiving a qualifying score for Advanced Placement increased by 11% from 2015 to 2016. Get more from the Louisiana Dept. of Education .
– Louisiana’s gross domestic product decreased by 0.9% between the first quarter of last year and this year. See full report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis .
– The leading cause of death in Louisiana is heart disease. Get more from the Louisiana Vital Statistics Fact Card 2013.
– Acreage on south Louisiana farms devoted to sugarcane increased this year. LSU AgCenter experts estimated about 440,000 acres is being used for sugarcane, roughly 30,000 acres up from last year.
– There are 56 nonrefundable tax credits and 28 refundable tax credits allowed on the Louisiana personal income tax return.
– Louisiana waters produce nearly 70% of the commercial white shrimp harvested.  In 2014, Louisiana was responsible for almost 70 million pounds of white shrimp, worth over $148 million.
– Louisiana nonfarm employment is down 18,600 over the year May 2015 – May 2016. Get more from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Six constitutional amendments were passed during the three legislative sessions this year and will appear on the November ballot. Get more from the Louisiana Legislative Web Site.
– Louisiana is also responsible for nearly half of the commercial eastern oyster landings in the U.S. in 2014, more than 12 million pounds. Louisiana’s oyster catch in 2014 was valued at over $67 million.
– Louisiana’s “Tax Freedom Day” in 2016 is April 7th, the third earliest in the nation. Get more from the Tax Foundation .
– Louisiana’s total commercial fisheries landings totaled 872,252,798 pounds in 2014 and were valued at $487,074,289.
-A total of 389 bills became Acts during the Regular session of the Legislature. Get more from the Louisiana Legislative Web Site.
– A total of 69 bills were filed for the second special session of the Legislature. Get more from the Louisiana Legislative Web Site.
– A total of 389 bills became Acts during the Regular session of the Legislature. Get more from the Louisiana Legislative Web Site.
– A total of 69 bills have been filled for the second special session of the Legislature. Get more from the Louisiana Legislative Web Site.
– Louisiana dropped 30 spots in the best states for business rankings , going from #7 in 2015 to #37 in 2016. Get more from Chief Executive Magazine.
-There are 48 items in the governor’s call for a Second Special Session. See the call.
– Louisiana dropped 30 spots in the best states for business rankings , going from #7 in 2015 to #37 in 2016. Get more from Chief Executive Magazine.
– Currently, 85 bills filled for the current legislative session have been signed by the governor into Acts of law . Get more from the Louisiana State Legislature Web Site.
23.5% of the Louisiana adult population smokes (44th in the nation) and 33.1% of the Louisiana adult population is obese (45th in the nation).
-Louisiana’s four-year high school graduation rate for public school students rose to 77.5% in 2015. The rate marks an all-time high and the fifth year that the rate has improved.   Get more from the Louisiana Department of Education .
-Louisiana ranks 39th in deficient bridges, 41st in rural Interstate pavement condition, 48th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 19th in urban Interstate congestion.
– The latest release of the Louisiana Survey shows residents have little faith in their state government . Fewer than one in five respondents trust state government to do what is right “always” or at least “most” of the time. A majority of those polled, 60% , said they can trust state government to do what’s right “ some of the time .” Get more from the LSU Public Policy Research Lab .
Fitch has downgraded Louisiana’s bond rating to AA- from AA. Get more from Reuters news service.
– The number of women-owned businesses in Louisiana has grown by 48.8% since 2007, ranking the state No. 10 nationally for growth of such firms. Get more from a report commissioned by American Express OPEN.
– There are98 bills in theHouse and 53 bills in theSenate filed on the topic ofeducation for the current legislative session. Getmore from the state legislature web site.
Enrollment in Advanced Placement college-prep courses increased vastly in Louisiana from 2012 to 2014, but only about 30% of students scored at a “Qualifying” level(3 or greater out of 5) on AP exams last year.
78 constitutional amendments have been filled between both the special and regular sessions of the legislature. Get more from the state legislature web site.
– Few residents are familiar with the details of the state budget. Most are unable to answer questionsabout how the state spends funds across policy areas, and significant numbers overestimate expenditures on welfare and prisons relative to other policy areas. Get more from the 2016 Louisiana Survey by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab .
– Following the enactment of legislation from the special session of the legislature, the Revenue Estimating Conference’s updated forecast reports that the current year budget is approximately $70 million short and the 2017 budget year is $750 million short.
-Approximately 5.5% of individuals with a bachelor’s degree in Louisiana are below the poverty line as compared to 16.3% for someone with a high school degree.
– Currently, there are 1,262 bills prefiled for the upcoming regular session of the legislature. Get more information on the session at the Legislative web site.
– In Fiscal Year 2010, the Dept. of Health and Hospitals’ State General Fund allocation accounted for 13% of the total State General Fund. In Fiscal Year 2016, the department’sState General Fundallocation is 31% of the total State General Fund.
– There are 7 days remaining in the current special session of the legislature. The session must end next Wednesday, March 9. Get current information on the session at the Legislative web site.
– In 2013-2014, 46 percent of Scholarship students were enrolled in a tested gradeand 34 percent of those students were first-time Scholarship recipients.
– For Fiscal Year 2015-16, it is projected that total tax exemptions will equal more than actual collections, $7.9 billion in exemptions vs. $7.5 billion in receipts. Get more from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
– In 2013-14, 11% of TOPS awards were cancelled. The primary reason for loss of a TOPS award is failure to earn the required 24 hours of credit per academic year, not the student’s grade performance.
– Approximately 5.5% of individuals with a bachelor’s degree in Louisiana are below the poverty line as compared to 16.3% for someone with a high school degree.
– As of the first week of the special legislative session, there have been 66 House bills filed and 14 Senate bills filed. Get more from the Louisiana State Legislature web site.
State-controlled highway mileage makes Louisiana’s system the 14th largest in the U.S.
-The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks Louisiana 15th for early learning access for four-year olds.
– Louisiana received mixed grades in the latest Innovation Scorecard from the Consumer Technology Association. Get the full report for more details.
– Analysts predict a 50% increase in oil prices in 2016. Read more from Bloomberg report.
– In Louisiana, about 40% of all households—or 695,719 total—are unable to afford the state’s cost of living , according to a new “ALICE” report released by the Louisiana Association of United Ways.   Get the full report for more details .
– Louisiana had the 5th-lowest state and local tax burden in the country for the 2012 tax year. See rankings from the Tax Foundation.
– The relative buying power of Louisiana’s 16-cent fuel tax (initiated in 1984) is now about 7 cents.
– Louisiana invests virtually no State General Fund dollars for the education of at-risk children under age four and just 12.5% of at-risk children from ages birth through three are served by any program.
46% of annual job openings in Louisiana require a high school diploma with a post-secondary credential and 38% require a high school diploma with no post-secondary credential, but some college.
– The state gasoline and diesel fuel excise tax generates about $600 million per year.
– For fiscal year 2014-15, sales tax exemptions in Louisiana totaled nearly $3 billion. Get more from the Tax Exemption Budget prepared by the Dept. of Revenue.
– The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks Louisiana 15th for early learning access for four-year olds.