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 Press Releases

6/26/2015
State Revenues Slightly Up

BATON ROUGE, La. - The May 2015 Net Receipts Report shows that total state revenue thus far for 2014-2015 was $7.115 billion, a two percent increase compared to that time last year. However, severance tax receipts remain weak, and corporation and franchise tax collections are down.

General sales tax cash receipts for FY 2014-2015 to-date are $2.520 billion, for an increase of $86 million or 4 percent compared to last year. General sales tax cash receipts this time last year were $2.434 billion, which was $35 million more than the prior year.

Individual income tax cash receipts for FY 2014-2015 to-date are $2.626 billion, for an increase of $121 million or 5 percent compared to last year. Individual income tax cash receipts this time last year were $2.505 billion, which was $5 million more than the prior year.


General severance tax cash receipts for FY 2014-2015 to-date are $690 million, for a decrease of $69 million or 9 percent compared to last year. General severance tax cash receipts this time last year were $759 million, which was $11 million less than the prior year.

Corporation and franchise tax cash receipts for FY 2014-2015 to-date are $487 million, for a decrease of $50 million or 9 percent compared to last year. Corporation and franchise tax cash receipts this time last year were $537 million, which was $249 million more than the prior year.

Gasoline and special fuels tax cash receipts for FY 2014-2015 to-date are $556 million, for an increase of $16 million or 3 percent compared to last year. Gasoline and special fuels tax cash receipts this time last year were $540 million, which was $8 million more than the prior year.

Miscellaneous taxes cash receipts for FY 2014-2015 to-date are $220 million, for an increase of $23 million or 12 percent compared to last year. Miscellaneous taxes cash receipts this time last year were $197 million, which was $20 million less than the prior year.

To view the report in its entirety, visit
www.latreasury.com and click "Net Receipts Statement for the Month of May 2015."

6/22/2015
Bill To Reduce Consulting Contracts To Become State Law

BATON ROUGE, LA. - Legislation to reduce the thousands of consulting contracts in state government will become law July 1 after a years-long push, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

"This is a monumental achievement that will benefit taxpayers across Louisiana," said Treasurer Kennedy. "Contracts for out-of-state consultants now will have to be vetted before the public. Like roaches scurrying away when the lights come on, the ridiculous contracts - and there are many of them - won't be able to withstand public scrutiny."

House Bill 30 requires contracts totaling $40,000 or more for professional, personal and consulting services to be approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Money set aside for contracts that are rejected will go into a fund for higher education.

"State Rep. Dee Richard and I have been working on this legislation for years," said Treasurer Kennedy. "The state has wasted enough money on out-of-state consultants. It's time to banish the foolish contracts and spend that money on our true priorities such as higher education and health care."

6/18/2015
State Bond Commission Approves $624 Million for Local Projects

BATON ROUGE, LA - The State Bond Commission approved $624 million for projects statewide and approved more than $41 million in savings at its June 18 meeting, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

"We approved projects that will make a difference in the lives of citizens across Louisiana," said Treasurer Kennedy. "Acadia Parish will get vital fire-fighting equipment. New homes will be built in Bossier Parish. In the city of Kenner, memory care units will be established for the elderly. "

Among the individual projects approved were:

  • Acadia Parish, $300,000 in Public Improvement Bonds for Fire Protection District No. 1: for acquiring and equipping a fire truck and acquiring other firefighting equipment.
  • Avoyelles Parish, $200,000 in Limited Tax Bonds for the city of Marksville: for improving and rehabilitating a public building to serve as a community center, including acquiring equipment, fixtures and appurtenances.
  • Avoyelles Parish, $80,000 in Limited Tax Bonds for the town of Simmesport: for reroofing public buildings.
  • Bossier Parish, $5.9 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Housing Corporation's Villages at Eagle Pointe VII Project: for acquisition, construction, and equipping of a 76-unit multifamily apartment facility in Bossier Parish.
  • Bossier Parish, $15 million in Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Community Development Authority's city of Bossier City, Louisiana Project: for additions, acquisitions, repairs and/or expansions needed to maintain works of public improvement.
  • Caddo Parish, $12.5 million in General Obligation School Refunding Bonds for the Caddo Parish School Board, Parishwide School District: saving taxpayers $417,412.
  • Catahoula Parish, $30,000 in Certificates of Indebtedness for Fire Protection District No. 4: for purchasing fire equipment.
  • DeSoto Parish, $24.5 million in Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Police Jury (International Paper Company Project): saving $3.9 million.
  • Iberia Parish, $1 million in General Obligation Refunding Bonds for the Iberia Parish Council: saving taxpayers $117,586.
  • Jefferson Parish, $1 million in Limited Tax Revenue Bonds for the city of Gretna: for (1) capital improvements and (2) acquiring equipment, including water meter upgrades.
  • Jefferson Parish, $42 million in Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority's Inspired Living of Kenner Project: for (1) acquiring, constructing and equipping a senior living community including assisted living units and memory care units; including acquisition of land to be located in Jefferson Parish, (2) funding a reserve fund, if necessary to market the bonds and (3) paying capitalized interest.
  • Ouachita Parish, $20 million in Sales Tax Bonds for the Ouachita Parish School Board, West Ouachita Parish School District: for constructing, acquiring, improving, equipping and/or furnishing schools and school related facilities.
  • St. Charles Parish, $7.775 million in General Obligation Refunding Bonds for Hospital Service District No. 1: saving taxpayers $552,000.
  • St. Tammany Parish, $1.5 million in Limited Tax Certificates of Indebtedness for Recreation District No. 1: for acquiring, constructing or improving parks, playgrounds, recreation centers and other recreational facilities, together with the necessary furnishings and equipment.
  • Statewide, $350 million in Assessment Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation: saving taxpayers $36,962,019.
  • Vermilion Parish, $3.313 million in Sewer Revenue Bonds for the town of Erath: for constructing and acquiring improvement and replacements to the sewerage system, including appurtenant equipment and accessories.

The Louisiana State Bond Commission meets monthly to review and approve applications from parishes, municipalities, special taxing districts, and other political subdivisions of the State requesting authority to incur debt. For more information, visit www.LATreasury.com.

 

 Opinion Columns

6/19/2015
Governor Correct To Veto TOPS Legislation

Imagine it's your high school graduation day. You've worked hard, and your parents want to reward you. They tie a big bow around a car and hand you the keys. They tell you the car is a graduation gift. 


Now imagine how you'd feel if your parents forgot to mention that they expect you to make the car payments. Suddenly, that shiny car doesn't look so shiny. 


As a state, we would have been making a similar false promise if Senate Bill 48 had become law and allowed us to saddle our students with expenses that TOPS should cover. Governor Jindal did the right thing in vetoing this no doubt well-meaning but ill-conceived legislation.


TOPS is one of the greatest programs we've ever established in Louisiana. Through TOPS, students who study hard and keep up their grades can get a college education courtesy of the state. It's the smartest thing we've ever put in place.


SB48 would have diluted the program's value by allowing TOPS to remain stagnant while tuition increases. The bill would have forced the Legislature to vote on whether TOPS awards should be boosted to match tuition hikes. In other words, our students could have been left responsible for part of their tuition bill.


Let me boil down what SB48 truly was: It was an attempt to cap TOPS.


TOPS has sent a quarter of a million kids to college in Louisiana. That's a staggering statistic considering the state's population is only 4.65 million.


SB48 existed because legislators blew the opportunity this year to streamline state spending in order to safeguard priorities such as health care and higher education. They balanced the state budget with $145 million in efficiencies that probably won't materialize. They relied on $300 million in revenue that will have to be replaced in a year's time. They stuffed the state construction budget with $377 million in projects that the state cannot afford. 


The Legislature put the budget together with duct tape, and they're at the end of the roll. Ten years ago, Louisiana had a budget of $16 billion. Next year's budget is $24.5 billion. Louisiana's population hasn't exploded in a decade, forcing the state's budget to exponentially grow. We're simply spending beyond our considerable means.

 
TOPS should not be a casualty of the state's spending problems. We can't promise to pay college tuition and then only fulfill part of the promise. We can't build up the American dream and then give our kids an invoice for it.

6/18/2015
Don't Make TOPS A Casualty
Imagine it's your high school graduation day. You've worked hard, and your parents want to reward you. They tie a big bow around a car and hand you the keys. They tell you the car is a graduation gift.

Now imagine how you'd feel if your parents forgot to mention that they expect you to make the car payments. Suddenly, that shiny car doesn't look so shiny.

As a state, we will be making a similar false promise if Senate Bill 48 becomes law and allows us to saddle our students with expenses that TOPS should cover. It is my hope that Governor Jindal will consider vetoing this no doubt well-meaning but ill-conceived legislation.

TOPS is one of the greatest programs we've ever established in Louisiana. Through TOPS, students who study hard and keep up their grades can get a college education courtesy of the state. It's the smartest thing we've ever put in place.

SB48 would dilute the program's value by allowing TOPS to remain stagnant while tuition increases. The Legislature would have to vote on whether TOPS awards should be boosted to match tuition hikes. In other words, our students could be left responsible for part of their tuition bill.

Let me boil down what SB48 truly is: It's an attempt to cap TOPS. Thankfully the governor has recognized the legislation for what it is and voiced his opposition for the bill. I can only hope that he will take a hard look at the bill that landed on his desk.

TOPS has sent a quarter of a million kids to college in Louisiana. That's a staggering statistic considering the state's population is only 4.65 million.

SB48 exists because legislators blew the opportunity this year to streamline state spending in order to safeguard priorities such as health care and higher education. They balanced the state budget with $145 million in efficiencies that probably won't materialize. They relied on $300 million in revenue that will have to be replaced in a year's time. They stuffed the state construction budget with $377 million in projects that the state cannot afford.

The Legislature put the budget together with duct tape, and they're at the end of the roll. Ten years ago, Louisiana had a budget of $16 billion. Next year's budget is $24.5 billion. Louisiana's population hasn't exploded in a decade, forcing the state's budget to exponentially grow. We're simply spending beyond our considerable means.

TOPS should not be a casualty of the state's spending problems. We can't promise to pay college tuition and then only fulfill part of the promise. We can't build up the American dream and then give our kids an invoice for it.
4/27/2015
Louisiana: A Consultants' Paradise, Part 2

LSU system leaders are planning more layoffs. Their state funding has shriveled up. They've had to raise tuition, making college an unattainable dream for many would-be students. And Wall Street doesn't want to loan money to them because of the abysmal way higher education is funded in Louisiana.

At the same time, we're outsourcing the monitoring of our black bear population, the study of our white-tailed deer, the genetic analysis of our yellowfin tuna, the survey of our big brown bats and even research on the Macondo Oil Spill (otherwise known as the BP Oil Spill) to universities in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi and New Jersey. We're paying them thousands of dollars.

We're spending millions of dollars on a state agency's marketing strategy. Thankfully, the money is going to a Louisiana business, but, still, it's millions of dollars. We've got a $1.8 billion state budget shortfall. We're dining on steak and lobster when we should we clipping coupons and living on Ramen noodles. Our universities are paying the price for our extravagance.

Now, before you start downloading applications to send your kids to college in Colorado or Florida, let me reassure you. The legislative session just got under way. There's time to fix this problem.

All we need to do is to stop making Louisiana an out-of-state consultants' paradise.

State government in Louisiana has thousands of consultants and consulting contracts. Here are just a few:

  • Contract #734975; "Monitoring the Louisiana Black Bear Population: Continued Health Of The Population, Monitoring Adult Female Survival & Continue Hair-Snare Work In The Texas & Upper Atchafalaya Population;" University of Tennessee; $189,750.
  • Contract #716789; "Effects Of Predation On White-Tailed Deer Recruitment On The Tensas National Wildlife Refuge In North-Eastern LA;" University of Georgia; $315,010.
  • Contract #718119; "Describe The Reproductive Biology Feeding Ecology Of Yellowfin Tuna In The Northern Gulf Of Mexico And Assess Genetic Stock Structure Of Yellowfin Tuna And Connectivity Between The Gulf And Other Regional Stocks In The Atlantic Basin;" The University of Southern Mississippi; $546,845.
  • Contract #717427; "Research On The Effects Of The Macondo Oil Spill On Coastal Ecosystems;" University of Tennessee; $551,797.
  • Contract #734837; "To Complete Planning, Webinars, And Face To Face Training To Improve Supported Employment Services Provided To VR Consumers With The Most Significant Disabilities;" University of Arkansas, $42,500.
  • Contract #728593; "Complete Broad Survey To Document Current Distribution Of The Big Brown Bats;" Texas Tech University, $74,129.
  • Contract #714507; "Research On The Effects Of The Macondo Oil Spill;" Rutgers University, $413,357.
  • Contract #730926; "Provide Assistance In Developing And Executing A Strategic Marketing And Communication Program For Louisiana Department of Economic Development;" $3.4 million.

Two pieces of legislation - House Bill 30 by state Rep. Dee Richard and House Bill 376 by state Rep. Lance Harris - up for consideration this session would cut down on the waste of taxpayer money and toss a life boat to universities drowning in financial problems.

House Bill 30 would create more legislative oversight for contracts worth $40,000 or more. State agencies will think twice if they have to go before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget before hiring an out-of-state consultant. Money set aside for contracts that are rejected by legislators will go to higher education.

House Bill 376 would establish a clearinghouse at the Board of Regents for federal grants received by the state. The clearinghouse would decide if Louisiana public colleges and universities can do the work for which the grants have been given, instead of out-of-state universities, out-of-state consultants and politically connected nonprofit organizations. This will help both Louisiana colleges and Louisiana taxpayers.

We can save higher education from financial exigency. We can save money for taxpayers. All we need is a little common sense.
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