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Mar 062016
 

by Ann Porter
The centerpiece of Governor John Bel Edwards’s plan to fix the $900 million dollar budget deficit was a “clean penny” increase in the state sales tax. I wasn’t a fan. Sales taxes are regressive and hit poor people harder. Louisiana already has one of the highest sales tax burdens in the country when local and state taxes are combined. But we are in a desperate situation. The Governor explained that he dislikes the option also, but revenue is needed immediately to fix the deficit. Revenue from an increase in income tax rates (which would be preferred) won’t be realized soon enough. An extra penny in state sales tax, combined with some budget cuts and elimination of some tax credits and exemptions, could bring the situation under control.

Now, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) is recommending an ADDITIONAL penny sales tax on top of the one that’s already passed. LABI recommends that this function as a stopgap measure that steps down over time, giving the legislature time to fix the structural problems with our tax code. Conveniently, this would negate the need for business to assume any share of the burden of fixing the problem their cronies and lackies got us into in the first place. Yeah, I’m bitter.

Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project calls this additional penny “a bridge too far.” Moller writes, “Times of crisis call for shared sacrifice. But the deal being offered by big business interests to solve Louisiana’s historic budget shortfall would violate that basic principle by putting too much of the burden on working families that can least absorb a tax increase.”

CALL TO ACTION

We in St. Tammany Parish are in an interesting position in that only two members of our delegation, Paul Hollis and John Schroder, voted for the FIRST penny. Let’s lend our voices to the effort to stop this bailout of big business on the backs of working people. Call your representative TODAY and ask him to vote AGAINST a tax increase. How easy should that be, right?

Representative Scott Simon – District 74 – 985.893.6246
Representative Kevin Pearson – District 76 – 985.646.6487
Representative John Schroder – District 77 – 985.893.6262
Representative Reid Falconer – District 89 – 985.792.5185
Representative Gregory Cromer – District 90 – 985.645.3592
Representative Paul Hollis – District 104 – 985.871.4680

 Posted by at 4:07 pm
Feb 152016
 

Welcome to the Real World. On Saturday, the State Legislative Committee heard the Governor’s budget for 2016-2017

The governor has proposed a number of changes to address a $950 million dollar deficit in this year’s budget. He’s received a lot of pushback in social media and from the legislators whose complicity with Bobby Jindal’s budget shenanigans got us in this mess in the first place.

On Saturday, Secretary of Administration Jay Dardenne presented the budget to the legislature’s Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. It is based on the assumption that the legislature will not implement any of the governor’s proposed budget changes for the 2015-2016 budget year. To maintain current funding will require just over $10 billion dollars. We are $2 billion short.

To come up with that $2 billion, the governor cut 24 percent from the departments of Higher Education, Health and Hospitals, Corrections, and the legislative and judicial branches of government. Every remaining agency and department, including Child and Family Services, Juvenile Justice, Natural Resources and the executive branch, among others, was cut 63 percent.

Here is a link to a document with the information Secretary Dardenne presented to the committee yesterday.

2015-2016 Budget revisions and the 2016-2017 Executive Budget

Here is a link to the actual hearing. It’s over three and a half hours long, but if you have the time to spend, you will learn a lot:

Archive: Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, 2/13/2016

 Posted by at 9:10 am
Nov 232015
 

On February 19, 2013, just over a thousand days ago, Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, announced on the Jim Engster show that he would be running for governor of Louisiana in 2015. From day one, members of the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club have been front and center, engaging with him on issues, volunteering, and donating to his campaign.

In 2011, the Louisiana Democratic Party fielded no viable statewide candidates. When new state party chair Karen Carter Peterson declared in 2012 that we were taking back the governor’s mansion in 2015, it seemed like a pipe dream. John Bel Edwards entered the race early. He and his whole family worked relentlessly for over two and a half years. By Election Day, the whole country gazed at Louisiana in awe. Was this really happening? Peterson’s bold prediction had come true: we had a Democratic Governor.

John Bel leads a second line through his victory party at the Hotel Monteleone, 11/21/2015.

John Bel leads a second line through his victory party at the Hotel Monteleone, 11/21/2015.

Other great things happened during this election. Louisiana’s two competing teacher’s organizations, the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) combined resources to endorse and campaign for John Bel. JBE’s strong showing in the primary brought in resources from national groups like the Democratic Governors Association, which were deployed to help with voter turnout all over the state. Strong women Democrats – Dr. Eileen Velez in Shreveport, Dr. Brenda Babin in Terrebonne Parish, and Ginger Vidrine in Lake Charles – ran for the Louisiana State House and Senate against terrible and entrenched incumbents. They didn’t win, but they stepped up.

Let’s enjoy this victory for a few days, then get ready to do it again. Qualifying for the St. Tammany Democratic Parish Executive Committee and the Democratic State Central Committee is December 2-4. What’s the job of both of these groups? Elect Democrats! Check the Louisiana Secretary of State’s web site for information about running. Registered Democrats will vote for these representatives on March 5, 2016, the same day we vote for the Democratic nomination for President.

Turning Louisiana purple is a long-term job. We can’t stop now.

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Oct 312015
 

by Bambi Polotzola

The next governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards

The next governor of Louisiana

On June 21, 2013 in the late afternoon, Bobby Jindal announced that he was vetoing funding for services for people with developmental disabilities and giving some of that funding to build a race track for one of his wealthy donors. People with disabilities and their families had spent months during the legislative session to secure funds that would help some of the over 10,000 people who are on a waiting list receive services so that they could live more independently. Bi-partisan support was achieved and legislators included funds in the budget. Imagine our devastation when we received word of the veto!

Hundreds of advocates and our allies worked day in and day out, night and day for 21 days to get the veto overridden. John Bel Edwards was a leader in the House of Representatives. He worked with us and was instrumental in getting the votes needed in the House. I’ll never forget his leadership, compassion, and friendship. The Saturday morning after the votes were in (we lost in the Senate), I was exhausted, still sleeping, when my phone rang. It was John Bel and he said how sorry he was for the loss, for the families affected, and he promised he would continue to work with us for people with disabilities.

He has not let us down. He is on the House Education Committee and has been instrumental in passing legislation that will now give my son Chas, who has autism, an opportunity to earn a real high school diploma. Prior to that, the efforts and abilities of students with disabilities were marginalized to the point that they had no pathway to a diploma. John Bel also stood up for teachers time and time again after years of them being demonized and not supported. He held the budget hostage late into the last night of the 2014 legislative session until he could secure the only pay increase that teachers received in Jindal’s administration.

Donna Edwards And Chas

Bambi’s son Chas with Donna Edwards, the next First Lady of Louisiana

John Bel Edwards did not do this alone. Many other legislators were instrumental and I’ll forever be grateful to them. But John Bel is a leader among leaders and those that know him and have worked with him know he’s a man of integrity and genuine concern for the people of Louisiana. With that, I commit that I will spend the next 21 days working as hard as I did during those 21 days in the summer of 2013 to ensure that we WIN this one and John Bel Edwards becomes our next governor.

Bambi Polotzola is chair of the St. Landry Parish Democratic Executive Committee and a member of the Democratic Women of Acadiana. A mother of two with a full-time job, Bambi is a tireless advocate for the disabled and a friend of club president Ann Porter. This essay is published with her permission.

 Posted by at 7:12 pm
Aug 032015
 
Ginger Vidrine, candidate for LA Senate District 27

Ginger Vidrine, candidate for LA Senate District 27

Southwest Louisiana’s 27th Senate district is in Calcasieu Parish, including much of the city of Lake Charles. The district had Democratic representation until the 2011 election, when Ronnie Johns, a Democrat-turned-Republican, ran unopposed for the seat.  Johns has been an advocate for Bobby Jindal’s budget cuts; the higher education cuts had particularly devastating effects in the district.

The 27th Senate District is ripe for the retaking by a strong Democratic candidate.

  • Democrats have a 24% registration advantage.
  • Women comprise 55% of the electorate in the district
  • African Americans 32% of the electorate.

Ginger Vidrine is that strong candidate. Ginger was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. Her father often worked two jobs for large and small timber companies. Her mother was a dental assistant. The whole family worked together to keep the large gardens and cows that helped provide for the family’s needs. Ginger is the first generation of her family to attend college. She graduated McNeese State and LSU Law. Today, she’s an attorney practicing family law in Lake Charles.

Ginger is running a modern, data-driven campaign, using polling, direct mail and media consultants who have won the toughest races in Louisiana.

Why does Ginger want to be a state senator?

“My parents taught me that if you work hard and are honest with people you can get far in life. Get an education and you can achieve anything; the American Dream is within reach for everyone in Louisiana. Today, I see the American Dream slipping further away from the average people in Louisiana. More and more, special interests and big corporations have more of a voice in Baton Rouge than the middle class. No matter how hard families try—multiple jobs, both parents working—it seems harder and harder to get ahead.  While the cost of college increases for students and their families, tax breaks grow for big business.

“I will go to Baton Rouge and fight every day for hard working folks like my parents. I’ll stand up for people working two jobs to make ends meet, not big corporations and their lobbyists.  A fair and even playing field is essential for Louisiana to grow and prosper, for generations now and in the future.”

For more information on Ginger and to contribute to her campaign, see her web site at www.gingervidrine.com.


While members of the Louisiana legislature are elected to represent the people in their own districts, their votes affect the entire state. Between now and the election we’ll be sharing stories about Democratic women running for the legislature around the state. These stories will primarily be about women running to replace Republicans. If elected, they will work for the issues we care about, like equal pay, an increase in the minimum wage, Medicaid expansion, reduction in mass incarceration and comprehensive sex education.

Let’s be frank: right now, campaigns run on money. The reason incumbents win is because they can raise money from the moneyed interests. The women we are writing about don’t have moneyed interests. They can count on help from labor, teachers and in some cases attorneys, but they don’t have big oil or big business in their pockets. With the stories, we’ll include links to their campaign web sites. Any contributions you can make would help.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Oct 102014
 
Blue Dat Festival
Abita Springs Trailhead 12-5 p.m.
Food, music, speeches, kids’ activities, things to buy, fun to be had
NDWC working meeting
Cell phones, postcards, wine, snacks, socializing
Abita Springs Town Hall 3 p.m.
Mary Landrieu Women’s Luncheon, Hyatt Regency, 601 Loyola Ave., New Orleans11:30 a.m.-1p.m Tickets: $60 or $30 for “young women” http://www.marylandrieu.com/act/rsvp-for-an-upcoming-womens-luncheon
Election Day
Vote for Mary Landrieu
Fracking hearing
A public hearing on Helis Oil & Gas Co.’s controversial request for a permit to drill a well near Mandeville will be be held Friday Nov. 12 at Lakeshore High School, the state Department of Natural Resources said. The hearing will begin at 5 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
 Posted by at 3:04 pm
Oct 072014
 

Get an early start on BlueDat Fest at the St. Tammany Parish Democratic Executive Committee’s  Breakfast Fundraiser featuring the dynamic Russel Honore of the Green Army. The event will be held at the Abita Quail Farm from 9-11 a.m. and proceeds will benefit the St. Tammany DPEC’s scholarship program for Leadership St. Tammany/Northshore. Ticket prices are $40 and can be purchased online at http://www.dems4change.org.

General Honore

 Posted by at 9:02 pm
Aug 132014
 

Join the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club as we enjoy wine, food, song and shopping. Over 70 purses, new and gently used, designer and casual, funky and fancy, will be offered in a silent auction. Proceeds benefit the Louisiana Environmental Action Network for anti-fracking actions in St. Tammany Parish. Every purse comes with a prize.  Men and women, Republicans and Democrats are welcome.

Join us for our fun event to raise money for anti-fracking action in St. Tammany Parish

 

 

Sunday, August 17th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Abita Springs Town Hall
22161 Level Street
Abita Springs, LA

 

 Posted by at 8:22 pm