2024 – Louisiana’s year of opportunity

   
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The 2024 Regular Session of the Louisiana State Legislature kicked off on March 11, 2024. There are several bills that we should all be paying attention to ranging from closed primaries to election integrity. But one bill we have to watch closely every year is HB02.

The Measure of a Good Legislator

A newly elected legislator said ‘If we want to change Louisiana, we have to change how our tax dollars are allocated at the state level.’ He was speaking directly to the games that are played in every legislative session. It has been said that politics is a numbers game. We don’t necessarily agree. Elections and any aspect of politics that requires votes may be a numbers game, but politics certainly isn’t and doesn’t have to be.

HB02 is where to look for the grifters. But not the low-level grifters we exposed in “Youngsville: Cash on Ice.” We are talking about the corporate welfare recipients. That segment of corporate America is perfectly OK with promoting anti-Christian and anti-American values while looking for a handout from you. You don’t believe they exist? Don’t be so naïve.

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The Rules of the Game

Under the traditional rules of the game which are in place every year at Huey P. Long’s playhouse, it is a numbers game. Any particular legislator who has values and principles can bring forward a good bill. A bill that is likely to make the situation better for the average citizen in Louisiana. A bill that every person of principle in the legislature should not have a problem voting in favor of. The only problem is our legislature is not entirely made up of principled individuals. Some just don’t share the same values as us. Others share our values in matters of convenience only. And then there are those fat cats who are only interested in ‘what’s in it for me?’ And it takes votes to get a bill passed.

Those who don’t respect our values will gladly wield their dagger in committee and kill good bills simply because that is their nature. Others will align with the good legislator some of the time. A sort of quid pro quo, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Or you need a vote and I have a vote, but I will need a vote in return in the future scenario. How many votes do you need to pass a bill? Then there are those primarily looking for the HB02 Louisiana-certified pork. I have a vote, but I need some bacon to bring home are my constituents will tar and feather me!

Local Corporate Grifters

Lafayette has its fair share of local corporate grifters. Anybody who has used the bathroom facilities at Moncus Park has probably seen the sign on the building which reads: “Made possible by Louisiana State Capital Outlay Funds.” That is the same Moncus Park that was openly telling the public that their operations were ‘100% donor funded.’ This is just one example.
Then there was that $3 million we told you about in “It’s Bigger Than You Expected.” Funds were directed to the Acadiana Area Human Services District unbeknownst to the agency head. That was until he was approached by a group of local grifters inquiring about the money. Those grifters were directly tied to Leonard Franques, who pled guilty earlier this year for his involvement in the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office scandal involving Dusty Guidry.

But others want a handout. Despite having millions of dollars in the bank. Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Inc. is one such corporate welfare recipient. Presently Our Lady of Lourdes is standing with their hand out waiting on $5 million in state (your) tax dollars. Why? They want to build another emergency room. Then build it! Why are you waiting on a payout from taxpayers? After all, according to their most recent Form 990 filed with the IRS for the tax year 2021, their end-of-year assets/fund balance was $188,771,413. To put an exclamation point on that, (not that it needs it), this is an increase of $53,013,031 when compared to the previous year. But it goes further than that. Not only do they have money to spend, they have money to waste!

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Handouts and wasteful spending

In June of 2021, Our Lady of Lourdes pledged $15 million to the Ragin Cajun Athletic Foundation. Pledging $4 million that first year, $860,000 the following year (2022), and $780,000 each year thereafter through the year 2035. So if Our Lady of Lourdes needs $5 million in taxpayer money, it is largely because they have a priority problem. We should all be surprised. Not by the fact that they want a hand-out, but rather by the fact that they didn’t ask for $15 million instead of $5 million!

So, if we are truly going to change Louisiana, we must pay close attention to our legislators, the bills they bring, and the votes/decisions they make. This requires an effort by all of us to hold our legislators accountable. They can’t be willing to compromise principles to secure a vote. We have had names of groups who compromise/sell out (i.e. “Fraud Squad”) and those that hold the line (i.e. “Gang of 36”). They are all highlighted on our scorecards. There is even a place for you to participate and make a suggestion. So get involved!

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