Big-name figures help students understand: To stay or not to stay in-state?

Political Strategist and LSU professor James Carville discussed the issues surrounding millennials’ decision to stay or leave Louisiana with LSU student government president Stewart Lockett, and Re-Envisioning Louisiana symposium organizer Sarah Procopio. (Photo: Stephanie Malin)

Abbie Shull and Jacqueline DeRobertis

Young people in Louisiana are asking themselves a key question: Should I stay or should I go?

Students, political figures and entrepreneurs from across the state gathered Tuesday at LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs for a symposium on re-envisioning Louisiana as a place that could keep more of its young talent from moving to states ranked more highly for economic and educational opportunities.

“I think if I had gone to those places that are fifth on the lists instead of 45th, I think my road ahead would be easier, but I also think it would be less impactful,” LSU sophomore Sarah Procopio said.

Procopio, a Baton Rouge native, explained that she would rather stay in her home state and fight for change.

Read more in The Advocate.

Political scientist: America isn’t as politically divided as you think

Dr. Michael Wagner, a political scientist from the University of Wisconsin, spoke at LSU Tuesday about the partisan divide.(Photo: Stephanie Malin)

Jacqueline DeRobertis

Political scientist Michael Wagner believes that America is not as politically divided as it seems.

“Political division is normal,” he said Tuesday in a talk at LSU. “It’s not problematic that we disagree, but if we stop listening to each other, we are in real trouble.”

He explained that to most people, polarization means red versus blue or right versus left – but that the data tells a different story. While elected officials tend to be hyperpolarized, the public’s beliefs span a range of political ideologies, from populist to libertarian, with some moderates drawn from each camp.

Wagner, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who is working on a book about the partisan divide, gave a presentation at the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication.

Read the story in KALB.

Bad blood between Julie Stokes and John Neely Kennedy comes from two tweets, Stokes says

02SPAT photo Stokes
Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, said U.S. Senator John Kennedy dislikes her because of two positive tweets she made about his opponent in 2016. (Photo: Sarah Gamard)

Kaylee Poche

Louisiana is famous for its political spats, and the latest between two Republicans could be a factor in the upcoming special election for secretary of state.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La, has criticized State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, for supporting efforts in the state Legislature to compromise over a sales-tax extension to avoid deep budget cuts.

Asked about Kennedy’s comments, Stokes, who is running to replace former Secretary of State Tom Schedler, said Kennedy told her he disliked her because she sent out two positive tweets about one of his opponents when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

“I did almost-next-to-nothing to Kennedy, and he’s willing to disparage me all over the state,” Stokes said in an interview. “I just hope people get to a point where they can see through shallow political games like that.”

Read the story in FOX-8.


Senate sends tax bill to Gov. Edwards, funds TOPS

Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, presided over a 33-6 vote on Sunday to approve a sales tax compromise between Gov. John Bel Edwards and the House. (Credit: Sarah Gamard)

Paul Braun and Drew White

In a 33-6 vote Sunday, the Senate sent a sales tax bill to Gov. John Bel Edwards that could end the financial instability that has dominated discussions at the Capitol and led to seven special sessions since he took office in 2016.

The bill, which represented a compromise Friday between Edwards and House Republicans, will extend 0.45 of a cent of sales tax that was scheduled to expire on July 1.

That will lower the state’s portion of the sales tax to 4.45 percent from 5 percent now. But by not letting the full penny expire, it will raise $463 million to fully fund TOPS scholarships, higher education and state health services and reduce cuts in other areas. The extra 0.45 of a cent will expire in 2025.

Edwards and House Republican leaders also have grappled for control over the budget process, and the Senate voted 39-0 Sunday to pass a supplementary budget bill after acceding to House demands about how some of the spending choices might eventually be made. The House then ratified that deal 88-7, ending the special session.

Read the story in The Natchitoches Times.

Women in the Louisiana Legislature have been pivotal to compromise

Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge, stood her ground at a last-minute attempt to threaten her compromise sales-tax bill on the House floor Friday. (Photo: Sarah Gamard)

Kaylee Poche and Devon Sanders

How did the Legislature’s budget compromise come to be?

Paul Braun and Tryfon Boukouvidis

Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, commented Saturday on the sales tax compromise scheduled for a Senate vote Sunday.(Photo: Sarah Gamard)

As the Senate prepares to vote Sunday on a compromise to fund the state’s budget, ending a conundrum that has tormented lawmakers and citizens alike for the last three years, two Senate leaders reflected on how the deal came together and what lies ahead for Louisiana.

Committees led by the Democratic Sens. Eric LaFleur of Ville Platte and J.P. Morrell of New Orleans on Saturday approved bills that include the breakthrough terms that Gov. John Bel Edwards and the House agreed to on Friday.

Under that deal, the state will renew 0.45 percent of an expiring penny of sales tax for seven years and use an additional $466 million in revenue from that tax to fully fund TOPS scholarships and other parts of the state budget that had been vulnerable to cuts.

Read the story in The Shreveport Times.

Louisiana House approves sales tax renewal to avoid steep budget cuts

Rep. Paula Davis, a first-term legislator, presented the compromise bill that resolved a battle in the House over renewing part of a cent of state sales tax. (Photo: Sarah Gamard)

Paul Braun, Drew White and Tryfon Boukouvidis

The House erupted into cheers Friday after voting 74-24 to renew 0.45 percent of an expiring penny of sales tax until 2025, breaking a huge logjam and reaching a compromise with Gov. John Bel Edwards after nearly five months of intense fighting.

The bill would generate $466 million in additional revenue next year, falling $182 million short of the $648 million that Edwards had originally sought but only $42 million less than was needed to fund a somewhat reduced budget that the Legislature passed earlier this month.

Legislators said the compromise should provide enough money to fully fund TOPS, higher education, state health care services and other priorities while narrowing cuts to the Department of Corrections and payments to sheriffs for housing state prisoners.

Read the story in The Town Talk.