Louisiana Politics: Edwards raises $3.4 million for re-election campaign
Gov. John Bel Edwards raised roughly $3.4 million for his re-election campaign in 2016, his first year in office, and will soon report the total to the state Ethics Administration, according to a spokesperson for the Edwards campaign.
No further information was made available for what the Edwards campaign spent last year or how much money it actually has socked away in the bank.
Annual campaign finance reports for major offices like governor are due to the Ethics Administration by Feb. 15.
Edwards’ first-year haul of about $3.4 million is comparable to the $3.5 million that former Gov. Bobby Jindal raised for his re-election campaign in 2008, which was the first year in Jindal’s two-term tenure.
Jindal was viewed as a rising national star in 2008 and he received a handful of $5,000 maximum contributions from political action committees and individuals based in Washington, D.C.
Supporters of Edwards’ re-election campaign insist the governor’s upcoming campaign finance report will show a great number of donors located in Louisiana.
Rainy Day debate has started
The Edwards Administration’s proposal to use $119 million from the state’s emergency savings account, known as the Rainy Day Fund, is meeting opposition from conservative lawmakers who worry there have been too many transfers in recent years.
A new national review of how each state treats their rainy day funds, conducted by Governing magazine using data from the National Association of State Budget Officers, appears to highlight some of those mounting concerns.
For example, Louisiana is one of 17 states that has not yet replenished its savings account since the 2009 recession, which was preceded by years of record deposits.
The balance in Louisiana’s Rainy Day Fund in fiscal year 2009 was $854 million.
Since then the balance has dropped steadily, along with deposits being made into the account.
As it stands now, the state’s Rainy Day Fund holds $359 million.
The Governing report offers this summary: “States now have a median 4.9 percent of annual expenditures saved for the fiscal year, down from 5.1 percent the previous year. What’s more, four states —Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and North Dakota — now show no budget reserve funds, up from two states last year. The overall shift is a signal that tighter financial times could be ahead for states as a whole.”
In Louisiana, the Rainy Day Fund’s balance represents 3.7 percent of annual expenditures.
That percentage would of course decrease if lawmakers vote to use the Rainy Day Fund to help address a $304 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.
Gov. Edwards is expected to call a special session to host that vote, and other matters, in mid-February.
Into the Hall of Fame
The Louisiana Political Hall of Fame will recognize a new crop of inductees March 11 — and the event is back home in Winnfield this year after traveling offsite in 2016 for a special ceremony in Lafayette.
It’s a diverse mix this go around, with a reporter, a lobbyist, a mayor and others joining the ranks at the political museum and hall of fame.
Being inducted as part of the 2017 class are journalist Jim Beam, Judge Jimmy N. Dimos, the Rev. Dr. T.J. Jemison Sr., late lobbyist Bud Mapes and West Monroe Mayor Dave N. Norris.
There are also some special awards this year:
— Attorney Bill Broadhurst will receive the 2017 “Friend of Edwin Edwards Award.”
— Businessman Jimmy Gill Jr. will receive the 2017 “Friend of Russell Long Award.”
— Political consultant and author Gus Weill will receive the 2017 “Friend of John McKeithen Award.”
Louisiana history: A parish
created by a state lawmaker
Last week was the 194th anniversary (Janu. 17, 1823) of the Louisiana Legislature voting in favor of creating a new parish named Lafayette.
It had quickly become a thriving church settlement in the preceding years and the enacting legislation called for Lafayette to be carved out of a large piece of land in what was then St. Martin Parish.
Residents of this new parish were immediately allowed to elect a representative to the state House, but the governor was given the authority to appoint a judge and, more importantly, a sheriff.
Taxes needed to be collected, after all.
Gov. Thomas B. Robertson, however, didn’t see the new parish as a priority. He was too busy trying to move the state capital from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, which caused riots in the Big Easy that were controversial enough to force Robertson’s resignation in November 1824.
As president of the Senate, Henry S. Thibodaux became acting governor for one month until Gov. Henry Johnson was elected to cap off a bumpy line of succession.
So it was Johnson who finally got around to appointing a sheriff — and the honor went to Gregoire Villejouin, an immigrant of modern-day Haiti. (Three years ago Villejouin’s descendants actually pored over local and state archives to verify the appointment.)
A few months after the January 1823 act of the Legislature was approved, it was amended by lawmakers to include an annual appropriation of $800 to be spent on public education in the new Lafayette Parish.
They said it
“It’s been raining all year.”
—Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, on GOP opposition to using the Rainy Day Fund for the current fiscal year deficit, in The Advertiser
“We ain’t worried about the DA.”
—Lecompte Mayor Robert Baxter, who, along with town council members, are facing litigation over alleged misuses of tax money, in The Town Talk
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.