Louisiana’s Budget Woes

 

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Today I will be sharing something from a guest blogger of sorts.  One of the things I like about my profession is that it brings me in contact with a lot of good people, who are also smart, well spoken and know how to get to the heart of an issue.  My colleague Brett Duncan is an attorney who practices in Hammond, Louisiana.  He is a husband, father, runs a small business and is also a member of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

Today he posted something on FaceBook about the insanity of the current budget crisis we are facing in Louisiana.  Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the State of Louisiana has had holes in the budget for several years now, with little leadership from our former governor about how to find a long term fix.  He left office last month with what everyone knew was going to be a big deficit.  Turns out it is about double what we were led to believe it was going to be. Now it looks like there are going to be major cuts and tax increases, since we have what is projected as a $1.5 billion shortfall.

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Like any citizen, Brett is concerned. But today he hit on one of the most puzzling and aggravating facts of the whole mess.  With his permission, here is hit take:

“We are $500 million net negative in corporate taxes for this fiscal year. Meaning the state of Louisiana is paying out $500 million (in exemptions/credits, etc) more to corporations than we are collecting.” State Sen. Rick Ward during a recent Senate Finance Committee Meeting.

With this nugget of information, it should now be clear to all of us that LA Govt. has prioritized corporate profits over: 1) keeping taxes low for the rest of us, 2) Education, 3) Roads, 4) Orphans, 5) Abused and Neglected Children, 6) Prisons and Criminal Justice, 7) Healthcare, or 8) anything else that we might consider the basic business of state govt.

I support low taxes. I’m all for companys making a profit. I’m even for “economic incentives” to bring new companies and new jobs to LA. What I’m not in favor of is blatant corporate welfare during a time that we (everyone beside giant corporations w/ expensive lobbyist) are being asked to pay higher taxes so that basic state services can be adequately funded.”

Well said my friend.  Stated another way, fully one third of our problem is we are going to write $500 million dollars worth of checks, which is fully one third of this years shortfall. It is one thing to be broke. It is another thing altogether to keep handing out our cash, while at the same time we can’t keep the schools open and the roads fixed.  Only in Louisiana.

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WHY THE SEAHAWKS LOST THE SUPER BOWL

I was so upset last night after the end of the Super Bowl, I had to wait 12 hours and get a good night’s sleep before I could coherently put my thoughts into words. Those of you who know me know that I am passionate about football. Not the teams or the hype, but the game itself and what it represents. I am old school. If football were a religion, I would be a Fundamentalist, Primitive, foot washing, Apostolic Pentecostal. As for Super Bowl this year, I did not have a dog in that fight. Not a fan of the Seahawks or the Patriots. But I watched and was pleased that it turned out to be a good, competitive game between two talented and well coached teams. But, after the way it ended, I feel I must preach a little bit about why the Seahawks lost, when it seemed victory was inevitable. Inevitable in a way that, had it happened, people would be talking about for the next 50 years.

….In a word, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl because they do not have HONOR. And, they do not respect the football gods.

Football is a collision sport. It is the modern day equivalent of the ancient gladiatorial games. It is a game where strong, well trained, well motivated men don full body armor and helmets and engage in mortal combat, “mano o mano”. Only the strongest and bravest survive.

Football is a game where speed and quickness meets brute strength.  A lot of brute strength.  The heart of football is something called ‘rushing’.  That is a fancy name for picking up the football and running straight ahead to see who can stop you.  I am sure even cave men used to do that.  Pick up a rock, yell to your mates “Hey, I am gonna run this rock right through there. See if any of you guys can stop me!”

So, last night, Seattle has the chance to be the first team to win 2 Super Bowls back to back in like 20 years. They start their last drive down 4 points with 2:02 to play. They move the ball a little. Then, with less than a minute to go, they complete a pass that clearly shows that the football gods believed that Seattle should win. Marchand Lynch, who runs like a small steam engine at times, carries the ball down to the half yard line. So now Carroll just need a half yard, just 18 inches, to make football history.  18 inches.  That is just slightly longer that the width of your laptop screen.  Understand, Seattle has a hell of a running back, with 5 very big, mean, motivated men weighing a combined total of over 1500 lbs.  in front of him.  They only need a foot and a half. All they have to do to win the Superbowl is run the most basic play in football, the tailback dive up the middle and get just 18 inches.

So, what do they do? Do they hand off the ball?  Do they match strength with strength? Do they make a call like Vince Lombardi or Chuck Knoll would make?  Do they line up and say to the Patriots “Hey, I am gonna run this rock right through there. See if any of you guys can stop me!”  Do they win the game and bathe themselves in glory for all time? No.  Instead, they line up  and run some mamby pamby, West Coast, basketball style, dumbass “set the pick” pass play. And it was intercepted.  Oh yeah, there’s that.  Hey Pete, a guy named Woody Hayes used to say that when you throw the football, 3 things can happen and 2 of them are bad.  Yeah.

After the game, Pete Carroll magnanimously took the blame. “It was my fault”, he said.  Ya think?   That play call was SO bad, it was read and intercepted by a defensive back that, when the season started, was selling fried chicken at Popeye’s. Really?  And you got beat by a team that plays with under-inflated balls.  Come on, Man!  Line up and play FOOTBALL! Smash mouth, straight ahead, big boy football.  Granted, there are times to run those “pick” plays or other tricky passes. But this was not one of them.  This was a time to buckle up your chin strap, pull your jock up tight and push the other time off the ball and get those yards.

Alas, it was not to be. And the Seahawks, like gladiators of old, lost because they did not fight with Honor when it counted.

So, the Patriots will go down as the winners, Tom Brady takes another MVP award and the thing people will be talking about when I am dead and gone is a bone headed call when the game was on the line.  Sad day for lovers of football, no matter who your team is.

P.S.

I don’t want to be too hard on Pete Carroll. No matter how boneheaded he may be, apparently he is my cousin Matt Cotton’s long lost twin.