News for Monday 012218
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards will unveil a budget today that will show the effects of one-billion dollars in cuts to state agencies. Reports say healthcare and education will be the hardest hit, with the possibility of a 100-percent cut in funding to TOPS. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says it’s not the budget the governor wants, but it’s the budget he is constitutionally required to present. The budget is the result of a billion dollar shortfall generated by the expiration of a one cent sales tax, passed two years ago. So far, GOP legislative leaders and Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards have been unable to settle on a plan to address the fiscal cliff.
The Commissioner of Higher Education Joe Rallo is concerned about the possible lack of funding for the TOPS program. Governor Edwards will present his budget proposal on Today. Rallo says if funding for TOPS is eliminated, it will be devastating for students who benefit from the program. Rallo says if TOPS doesn’t get funding, it could affect Louisiana’s job market. The Governor, by law, must submit a balanced budget.
A 9.7 million dollar grant was awarded to a UL Lafayette consortium to study the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale oil deposit that stretches across central Louisiana into the Florida parishes. A study from the 80s indicated that Louisiana could be sitting on nearly seven billion barrels of crude oil. ULL Professor Mehdi Mokhtari (med-e mowk-tari) says the grant will help scientists unlock the shale’s potential.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission wants to know why utility customers were asked to reduce energy consumption for a time last Thursday morning over concerns the grids may not be able to handle the high demand in the cold. PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta says nobody’s power was going to be shut off. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which manages the flow of electricity, said they had set a record Wednesday morning for peak winter power usage.
Emerge Louisiana chooses 25 Democratic women that will train on how to run for political office. They come from across the state and will get 70 hours of in depth education over six months. Executive Director Melanie Oubre says with Districts being redrawn following the 2020 census, it will be a great time to have newly graduated women starting to create their new active roles in government, increasing the amount of female Democrats in office. Since the program started in other states, more than 150 Emerge America alums have been elected to office.
Vermilion School Board President Anthony Fontana has announced he is resigning immediately. This comes amid the controversy surrounding school teacher Deyshia Hargrave and her arrest two weeks ago. A non-partisan group CrowdPac is concerned about the recent volatile actions of the board and wants to see changes. Crowdpac spokesperson Mason Harrison says Fontana’s resignation is perfect timing for a seminar coming to Abbeville to train citizens to become prepared to run for a school board position.
With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and the Executive branch, Republican Congressman Clay Higgins issued a statement declaring “The shutdown of the federal government belongs to the democrats. While Senator Bill Cassidy’s statement read, “They voted to shut down the government just to appease the pro-illegal immigration extremists in their party.” Both Representative Higgins and Senator Cassidy said the measure voted down would have funded the U.S. military and the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
A state judge will hear a dispute next month between Governor Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry over which party should control the state’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. Edwards’ administration filed a lawsuit in September against more than a dozen drug companies. Landry filed a request to stop the suit since it didn’t include how it impacts other agencies. Landry says his office can supersede the state health department.
New Year’s resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside for many as day to day realities clash with their bold plans. LSU Ag Center nutritional specialist Elizabeth Gollub says many who start new diets plans can get frustrated with the changes and fall back on old habits with a binge. Gollub says one day of mistakes doesn’t mean you should abandon long-term healthy choices. Gollub says the key to making a long term positive change is to start with a series of smaller healthy habits.
A mysterious package left at a Slidell Post Office caused police to block off the area for the bomb squad to respond. The package was dropped off around 4 pm and after approximately 4 and half hours later the Slidell Police department said the contents of the package was about seventy pounds of human feces. Authorities say the person being questioned is thought to have mental health problems.
The couple found guilty of murdering a Zachary man and stuffing his body into a barrel were sentenced Friday. 23-year-old Jace Crehan was convicted of second degree murder and 19-year-old Brittany Monk, was sentenced to manslaughter. Both were from Walker. The victim, Robert Noce, was found guilty of sexually assaulting Monk for nearly ten years. Noce pleaded no contest to the charges two weeks before he was found in the barrel.