Stephanie Grace: Gov. John Bel Edwards' unprecedented speech 'definitely designed to terrify people'

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

Here is Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace's Quick Take on Gov. John Bel Edwards' televised address about the state budget: 1) Edwards, a Democrat facing a Republican-dominated Legislature, has tried his best to cast the state's budget shortfall of roughly $3 billion for the rest of this fiscal year and the next as a bipartisan problem in need of bipartisan solutions. His speech, though, made it clear he gets that some Republicans don't want to play it that way. Edwards insisted he's… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Edwards not trying to scare people? Sure looks like it

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards. ORG XMIT: BAT1601051615460496

Gov. John Bel Edwards insisted during his highly unusual address Thursday night that he wasn’t trying to scare people. Well, of course he was. Why else paint a doomsday scenario on statewide television three days before the Legislature will gather to deal with an immediate cash shortfall of nearly $1 billion and a hole twice that size for the fiscal year that starts in July? Why else talk of hospitals and colleges shutting their… Continue reading →

Ending impasse, Attorney General joins governor on Common Core lawsuit

A dispute between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry ended Thursday when Landry joined Edwards’ bid to drop an anti-Common Core lawsuit. The legal challenge was filed in 2014 by former Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Edwards said last week he ordered his legal counsel to ask the U. S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to shelve it. Landry challenged the governor’s comments and said that, as attorney general, he would have… Continue reading →

Special report: Amid cuts, shift in higher ed landscape, community colleges emerge in Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Jesse Hill works on a welding projects at BRCC's Port Allen campus.

Terry Hammatt’s educational journey has been an unusual one. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Then he earned two master’s degrees — one from his alma mater and the other from the U.S. Army War College. And last year, Hammatt capped it off by earning an associate degree in cybersecurity from Bossier Parish Community College. Ironically, perhaps, it’s that last degree — from a humble two-year… Continue reading →

Special report: How startling, unique cuts have transformed Louisiana's universities

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU students Rebecca Chalin, left, of Gretna, Amanda Winters, center, of Mandeville, and Michael Dyson, right, of Covington chant as they march toward the State Capitol with a crowd of concerned university students in December 2015 to rally against the higher education budget cuts, after assembling at nearby A.Z. Young Park.

When Gov. Bobby Jindal took office eight years ago, state taxpayers provided 60 percent of the funding for Louisiana’s public universities. Now, taxpayers put up barely a quarter of the tab, leaving students and their families to cover most of the gap in the form of rising tuition and fees. The scope of Louisiana’s disinvestment is both startling and unique. The national recession that began in 2008… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards orders state to drop anti-Common Core lawsuit

Gov. John Bel Edwards directed the state Thursday to drop a federal lawsuit challenging Common Core that was pushed by former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Edwards also ordered the termination of a $475,000 state contract to handle the legal challenge held by the law firm of Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, a former Jindal aide. The governor, in a prepared statement, said newly enacted federal legislation makes moot issues raised in the lawsuit. “It does… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards' spat over Common Core with AG heats up

Advocate Photo by MARSHA SHULER -- Jeff Landry, a former congressman from New Iberia, received the endorsement Tuesday of the Louisiana Republican Party in his bid to unseat fellow Republican Buddy Caldwell, the incumbent state Attorney General. Landry is flanked by his wife, Sharon, his 10-year-old son, J.T., and Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party.

The five-day-old spat between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry over a Common Core lawsuit escalated Monday. Landry, in a “Dear John” letter to the governor, repeated his view that he — not Edwards — has the final call on whether to drop an anti-Common Core challenge filed by former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Edwards announced last week that he ordered his legal counsel to end the case, which… Continue reading →

James Gill: Marco Rubio calls Bobby Jindal ‘one of best governors in America’; should we laugh or fear?

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

It’s been almost a week since Marco Rubio called Bobby Jindal “one of the best governors in America,” so you should have stopped laughing by now. Rubio could not possibly have been serious, could he? If a potential leader of the western world thinks the Jindal administration provided an example worth emulating, then we had better stock up with survival rations and hole up in the wilds. Let us hope that Rubio having just received… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards asks Legislature to kill SAVE

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is giving state lawmakers a chance to repeal legislation that was key to passing the current budget but that many agree makes little sense in practice. Item No. 14 on Edwards’ call for the special legislative session that starts Sunday is the repeal of the Student Assessment for a Valuable Education (SAVE) Act. It’s the only repeal listed among the 38 items up for consideration. “It was such a… Continue reading →

Chaos sneak peek: Bobby Jindal, Mitch Landrieu just a few public figures to be lampooned in satirical parade

We’re certain that Sir Isaac Newton never envisioned The Donald being subjected to gravitational forces; we’re also certain that The Donald can’t envision that either. At least his comb-over will remain elevated if he starts to descend as expected. But who knows? Anti-gravity forces exist in outer space, where this candidate often appears. He may soon be gravitating over the White House fence.

The Knights of Chaos is set to roll Thursday. Check out the slideshow above to catch a glimpse of what you’ll see on the parade route.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Governor warns about “parade of horribles”

Faced with a budget shortfall for this year and next that’s now hovering somewhere near the $3 billion mark, Gov. John Bel Edwards has been sending the same message at every stop: If critics don’t like his ideas for addressing the emergency, which include higher and more broadly applied state sales taxes and a higher cigarette tax, he’d be happy to consider theirs instead. Asked during an Advocate editorial… Continue reading →

Our Views: Louisiana budget debacle is stranger than fiction

Movie fans are apt to wear out their copies of the classic “Casablanca,” but we’ll have a thousand occasions to quote Claude Rains this year on the state budget crisis: Legislators are shocked — Shocked! — to find that there is deficit spending going on here. The parallels from fiction, alas, do not stop there in today’s State Capitol. Rains stuffed his winnings into his pocket even as he was using gambling as his excuse for… Continue reading →

Letters: State’s needs matter more than party rivalry

Dr. Jeff Sadow has become a reliably wrong commentator for The Advocate, and his Jan. 17 column on Medicaid expansion is no exception. Leaving aside the benefits of having a healthier workforce with more access to health insurance and care, Sadow ignores three key fiscal impacts: billions of federal dollars coming to Louisiana, millions saved by hospitals from lower uninsured patient costs and higher Medicaid revenues and thousands of health care sector jobs — and their tax payments… Continue reading →

Our Views: Edwards ends Jindal’s courtroom politicking

Win or lose, and former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s favored lawyers lost a lot, it was never good government for the late administration to gin up lawsuits over policy issues. Maybe it was good for news releases, given that Jindal was playing to national political audiences, but it’s not good business for the state, and Jindal’s lawyers cost a lot, win or lose. Gov. John Bel Edwards is taking a better approach.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The wreckage of Jindal’s Iowa campaign is right here at home

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Out-going Governor Bobby Jindal and his wife Supriya acknowledge applause as they are introduced during Governor John Bel Edwards outlines his priorities for the state during the inauguration of Gov. John Bel Edwards Monday on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. At right is Donna Edwards, wife of  Governor John Bel Edwards.

After what feels like a decade or two of pre-election jockeying, Iowa voters finally got to have their say Monday night at the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. And it’s worth pausing a moment to wonder: Did any of them give a passing thought to the fact that former Gov. Bobby Jindal wasn’t among their choices? I doubt it. There was a time not so long ago when Jindal practically lived in the state, with… Continue reading →

Our Views: At 11th hour, Jindal appointees play politics with raises

After years of a what-me-worry attitude toward state finances, it’s really not that surprising that top appointees of Gov. Bobby Jindal would plant financial land mines under their successors, in the form of 11th-hour pay raises that the state can ill afford. What is surprising: Given that Jindal’s reign included a general attitude that civil servants are unproductive bureaucrats, it’s strange that at the last moment the outgoing administration tries to make them… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gov. John Bel Edwards finds 'exorbitant' salaries needed to fill cabinet with Louisiana talent -- with one exception

Gov. John Bel Edwards just insulted Louisiana’s new Director of Homeland Security James Waskom. Edwards is paying all his cabinet secretaries at least as much as his predecessor Bobby Jindal did — with one exception. Waskom gets $135,000 a year, $30,000 less than Kevin Davis rated to keep us safe from terrorists and natural disasters. When Edwards decided to renege on the vow he made as a candidate to cut “exorbitant” cabinet salaries, he appears to… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal 2015, say hello to the popular, genuine, inclusive Bobby Jindal 2003

Advocate staff file photo by Mark Saltz -- Bobby Jindal explains why he decided to run for governor in August of 2003.

You know all those people who met Gov. Bobby Jindal early in his career and figured he could be president one day? I have to confess. I used to be one of them. Long before the governor’s all-wrong campaign for the Republican nomination, which he ended Tuesday after five futile months on the trail, Jindal showed the makings of someone who, even in defeat, could get an awful lot right. In hindsight, people… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: To describe David Vitter's plight, this Allen Toussaint lyric is perfect

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Sen. David Vitter concedes to John Bel Edwards in the runoff for governor Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, during his election-night party at the Airport Hilton in Kenner.

If the past couple of weeks around south Louisiana had a soundtrack, it would be the music of Allen Toussaint, the beloved New Orleans songsmith who died earlier this month, and whose vast catalogue has saturated the airwaves ever since. Maybe it’s fitting then, that one of Toussaint’s most pointed songs could double as the theme to the last few weeks of Louisiana’s gubernatorial race. Toussaint wrote “On Your Way Down” back… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: 'Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!' Election ends Bobby Jindal, David Vitter eras; now what?

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions at a press conference in front of the Governor's Mansion about his decision to drop out of the U.S. Presidential race, the state budget deficit, Syrian refugees coming into the state and other topics.

Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges’ account of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards’ resounding victory ended with a virtual tour of election night celebrations, from the Monteleone Hotel suite in the French Quarter, where Edwards had gathered with family and close friends, to nearby Galatoire’s, where Republican Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand toasted the rare Democratic triumph in conservative Louisiana, to the jam-packed Monteleone ballroom, where a brass band played “When the Saints Go Marching In.”… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Promising ideas for Louisiana clearly upon us after fog of Jindal's presidential campaign lifts

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards, right, answers a question as he and Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, hosted a joint press conference at the Governor's Mansion after meeting to talk about the transition.

It’s probably overstating things to say that John Bel Edwards’ resounding gubernatorial victory in reliably Republican Louisiana has made him a rising star among national Democrats, but the rare Southern victory has piqued interest throughout his party. Let’s hope it all doesn’t go to Edwards’ head. The last thing Louisiana needs is another governor who sees the job as a stepping stone, rather than a full-time commitment, and acts that way. Not that Edwards… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Outgoing Bobby Jindal tries to get in last word to frame his legacy

Bobby Jindal sounded positively wistful earlier this week, when he visited the Baton Rouge Press Club for the final time as governor. He talked about what a privilege it was for a son of immigrants who didn’t know a soul when they landed in Louisiana to lead the state. He boasted that he’d taken on big challenges and insisted he has no regrets over the agenda he set, only over the fact that he sometimes fell… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana predictions for 2016 ... major Senate showdown plus big John Bel Edwards promises

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Governor-elect John Bel Edwards addressed the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce in his first speech in New Orleans since the election Friday, December 18, 2015.

This time last year, I never would have predicted that U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who’s always found a way to win, would implode. I also didn’t think that a little-known, populist but socially conservative Democrat from Amite would be a stronger gubernatorial candidate than, say, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu might have been. Landrieu was elected lieutenant governor twice and continues to poll well, but Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards’ much lower profile turned out to be a secret… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Gov. Bobby Jindal leaves in a forgiving mood

In perhaps his last official act as governor, Bobby Jindal this week granted clemency to 21 convicted criminals, from low-level drug offenders to a murderer who’d turned his life around to such an extent that Jindal trusted him to care for his three children. While he was at it, Jindal may as well have officially forgiven a 22nd person: himself. This is not to say that Jindal has ever been accused of a crime,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: John Bel Edwards' order scolds Bobby Jindal for forfeiting cool $3B in Medicaid funds

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks Tuesday at the State Capitol at a  press conference with legislators, community leaders, and key stakeholders, just after issuing his first executive order, No. JBE 16-01, to provide for Medicaid expansion in the state of Louisiana.  Dept. of Health and Hospitals Secretary Dr. Rebekah E. Gee, MD, is at right.

John Bel Edwards’ first executive order actually reads kind of like an accusation. After a day and night of inaugural festivities Monday, Edwards got down to business Tuesday, put his pen to paper and kept his promise to accept federal money to expand Medicaid for 300,000 or more poor Louisianians under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But Edwards did more than that. He spelled out in the official document how much his predecessor,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just can’t seem to escape the sidelines in Republican presidential race

Gov. Bobby Jindal just can’t seem to catch a break. As the huge cast of Republican presidents-in-waiting prepares to gather at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for Wednesday’s second debate, the governor once again finds himself on the undercard rather than part of the main event. If that situation was damaging to his prospects last month, when he and six fellow low-polling candidates missed a chance… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Sen. Lindsey Graham asks Bobby Jindal to grow up during GOP debate

Wednesday night’s two-part GOP talkathon produced some memorable exchanges among the party’s 15 candidates for president, but for my money, one of the sharpest came during the so-called junior varsity debate preceding CNN’s three-hour main event. It was when U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told Gov. Bobby Jindal to grow up. That’s not how Graham put it, of course, although his actual words were tough enough. Jindal started the exchange when… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Networks didn't do Bobby Jindal any favors with undercard debates

Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, speaks Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, during the Faith & Freedom Coalition fall dinner at the Paul Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Michael Zamora/The Des Moines Register via AP)

The suits at Fox News and CNN surely consider the two recent Republican presidential debates smash hits. Both attracted record audiences, 24 million and 23 million, respectively, the kind of numbers that major sports broadcasts often draw. Both spawned memorable moments, most of them involving show-stopping frontrunner Donald Trump. That doesn’t mean they weren’t also failures, in at least one important way. It was the networks that decided to divide the unwieldy field into two,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: While Obamacare is far from perfect, it's now gaining acceptance

Although Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton appeared this week just a few miles from where Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal lays his head on those rare nights he spends off the campaign trail, her campaign brushed off the governor’s suggestion that the two should debate health care. With Jindal’s own presidential aspirations on life support, Clinton’s obviously got much more pressing concerns, from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ unexpected popularity to ongoing fallout… Continue reading →