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Posts from the ‘Releases’ Category

LAGOP VOTES ON PARTY LINES TO REJECT $52 MILLION, HEALTHCARE 

BATON ROUGE – During today’s hearings at the Louisiana legislature, while the House was attempting to wrestle with the $1.6 billion budgetary nightmare Gov. Bobby Jindal’s failed policies created, Rep. John Bel Edwards put forward an amendment to expand Medicaid and bring $52 million into our state. If adopted, Medicaid expansion would bring in nine dollars for every dollar the state spends. More importantly, it would bring healthcare coverage to 290,000 working Louisiana citizens currently forced to do without. Fifty-six Republican state representatives voted as a party to refuse those funds and to deny their fellow citizens desperately needed healthcare.

Joined by a single Republican legislator, the Democrats in the Louisiana legislature took a united stand for the people of our state. In a vote of 56-41 to refuse vital funds at a time when the budget is in dire straits, the priorities of the two parties were thrown into stark relief. Given the chance to ease suffering of their fellow citizens, and to bring $52 million into the state, Republicans in the legislature put politics above people and said “no.”

In doing so, the GOP again ignored appeals from organizations including AARP, Southwest Louisiana Health Education, Louisiana Budget Project, Louisiana Supported Living Network, League of Women Voters, Louisiana Interchurch Conference, AFLCIO, and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The party line vote against expanding healthcare speaks for itself,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director for the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Just looking at the roll call gives you a stark, black-and-white picture of the degree to which the GOP has abandoned any pretense of sound financial policy or common decency, and embraced politics over people.”

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WHAT NATIONAL MEDIA ARE SAYING ABOUT JINDAL’S ATTACK ON BUSINESS

BATON ROUGE – Governor Bobby Jindal’s cynical campaign stunt to plead for national attention from out-of-state interests and far right extremists seems to be having a real impact, though possibly not in the way the governor intended. Since announcing his executive order, Jindal’s desperate flailing on the national stage has put Louisiana in the spotlight as a state hostile to business and unfriendly to tourism. Given the $1.6 billion budget nightmare Jindal’s failed policies created, it’s the kind of notoriety our state can least afford.

The New York Times compared the move with other states and noted: “Legislators in Texas failed to act on a similar bill last week, reflecting the degree to which business interests have come to see the bills as projecting an image of intolerance that is bad for a state’s business climate. That is a particular issue with the tourism industry in Louisiana.”

Politico pointed out the convenient timing for Jindal’s campaign-in-waiting, saying “his executive order came the day after the Louisiana Republican announced he is forming an exploratory committee for a potential White House bid in 2016.”

The Washington Post lead by highlighting Jindal’s hypocrisy, beginning their article by writing: “A Republican critic of President Obama’s executive orders will issue an executive order of his own that some say will allow Louisiana businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.”

Other outlets, including the Associated Press and Salon joined the national chorus shaking their heads at the self-destructive and self-serving stunt already driving badly needed business revenue away from a state that needs every penny.

“After mounting a recovery that was by any measure miraculous in recent years, our tourism industry and our state’s business community are being callously undercut by Gov. Jindal’s stunt,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The nation is watching, and Gov. Jindal is failing the people who elected him at every turn.”

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GOV. JINDAL DETERMINED TO WRECK LA TOURISM, DEFY LEGISLATURE

BATON ROUGE – Scarcely two hours after members of the Louisiana legislature voted to table legislation that would enshrine discrimination into state law and deal a potentially mortal blow to the tourism industry, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced his plan to enact the law’s intent through executive order. Flying in the face of fierce opposition from the business community and the collective will of the Louisiana families whose jobs would be placed at risk, Jindal’s reckless and willful disregard for sound policy stands to cost state taxpayers millions of dollars. His economic mismanagement and ugly political cynicism strikes at the heart of the lone industry in our state not already crippled by the failed GOP policies that hobbled our citizens with a $1.6 billion deficit.

With this fall’s gubernatorial election rapidly approaching, Louisiana voters have the opportunity to turn the page on this kind of divisive, cynical stunt and elect a leader who will address the challenges we face head-on. Will Jindal’s would-be successor Sen. David Vitter go on record with his intent to reverse this divisive executive order? Will Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne put his money where his mouth is, stand up for the tourism industry and pledge to reverse his boss’s decision? Will Scott Angelle vow to fight for the business community and protect Louisiana’s job creators from a climate that puts them at a competitive disadvantage?

“Gov. Jindal’s stunt today once again underlines his disregard for Louisiana families, his disdain for the state legislature and his apparent contempt for the state’s tourism industry— the only segment of our economy his failed policies haven’t crippled,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Louisiana taxpayers and businesses are once again being forced to foot the bill for Jindal’s vanity. It’s foolishness our families cannot afford.”

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SCOTT WALKER AND JAY DARDENNE, FIGHTING TO KEEP YOUR WAGES LOW

NEW ORLEANS–Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is in New Orleans today, trying to hide from the financial disaster he created at home, and campaigning for president far from the taxpayers who elected him. Louisiana families are all too familiar with that old trick thanks to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s vanity campaign, but what’s even worse is the shared record of failure for middle-class families that Walker shares with Jindal and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne. Walker, Jindal and Dardenne have repeatedly embraced the same failed policies and the same cynical attacks on working people that have delivered miserable results for the people of Louisiana and Wisconsin.

Scott Walker and Jay Dardenne have been dismissive of having a minimum wage in place to protect working families. “I don’t think it serves a purpose,” Walker has said. And Dardenne concurs in principle, but is characteristically eager to pass the buck. He told listeners at a small business forum last month: “It should not be a state issue. We don’t need the state to get in the business of the minimum wage.”

“Scott Walker brought Washington divisiveness and dysfunction to Wisconsin – and we don’t need any of that here in Louisiana. Just like Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker is trying to run from his record of hurting the hardworking families of his state while he tries to run for office,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “And just like Bobby Jindal’s would-be successor, Jay Dardenne, Scott Walker is completely out of touch with the economic realities Louisiana families struggle with every day and would hurt our middle-class families. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Jay Dardenne have the wrong priorities for Louisiana.”

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VITTER AND JINDAL: IMPOTENT IN WASHINGTON AND UNLOVED AT HOME

BATON ROUGE – New poll data released yesterday by Southern Media and Opinion Research found Gov. Bobby Jindal at an all-time low, just in time for his next trip to stump for president in Iowa. Meanwhile, the Republican running to be Jindal’s successor, Sen. David Vitter, continues to spin his wheels in Washington, wasting time and burning bridges in the Capitol while Louisiana taxpayers struggle back home. With fellow Republicans calling out Vitter’s “disingenuous” time-wasting schemes and pointing out his lack of accomplishments, he may soon join Jindal at the bottom of voter approval rankings as well.

Even Republican voters are beginning to wake up to the disastrous impact of the failed policies Jindal and Vitter continue to push on taxpayers. The new report notes explicitly that after falling seven points to a negative job rating of nearly 65 percent: “Jindal’s latest decline comes primarily from his Republican base.” GOP lawmakers have likewise soured on Jindal’s would-be heir apparent. Both men have made a habit of ignoring or abusing the offices they hold, while in pursuit of the next, higher office they seek— always at the expense of the taxpayers whom they were elected to serve.

“We all know why David’s doing this,” said at least one senior Republican senator, expressing the cynicism and the frustration Vitter inspires even among his Washington colleagues.

“David Vitter has put the same kind of time and care into representing Louisiana families in the U.S. Senate that Gov. Jindal has put into being governor— with the same disastrous results for taxpayers,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Neither of them have anything to show for all their wasted time and effort but failed policies and campaigns of vanity. Louisiana voters deserve more than that. They deserve better leaders, and better statesmen. Vitter and Jindal are cut from the same cloth, and neither one of them qualifies.”

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SENATE PASSES SB 219, SUPPORTING EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN IN LOUISIANA

BATON ROUGE – In a major victory for Louisiana families, today the state senate passed Sen. Ed Murray’s SB 219, supporting equal pay for our mothers, wives and daughters. Currently ranked the worst state in the union for working mothers, with the worst gender pay gap in the country, Louisiana took a dramatic step forward today to guarantee equal pay for equal work. Women make up over half of the workforce in Louisiana, and in an increasing number of households they are the breadwinner for their families. For all this effort, they are cheated on payday— sent home with 67 cents on the dollar compared to men working the same jobs. Today, the Louisiana State Senate sent the message that this has to change. Our mothers are worth more, and our state deserves better.

During the floor debate, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson urged her colleagues to “put your vote where your mouth is,” and go on the record with their support for women’s pay equity. “Vote like it’s 2015 and not 1963,” she said. And they did. Twenty-one senators voted to pass pay equality in Louisiana and close the pay gap that threatens our state’s ability to attract talented employees from across the country.

“We commend all of the members who put aside partisan distractions to pass this bill, and we are looking forward to the House taking up this crucial piece of legislation quickly,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “There is nothing that should be controversial about this legislation, and every reason to support it— and to support Louisiana families.”

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What Mothers’ Day means for GOP Legislature: Blocking equal pay

BATON ROUGE – As Louisiana families celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend, we all take a moment to recognize the profound impact our mothers’ work and their support have made in each of our lives. In light of these universal sentiments, it is all the more appalling to remember that our state ranks 51st in the entire nation when it comes to the pay gap between men and women. Nationally, women bring home .78 for every dollar earned by a man. In Louisiana, our mothers and our daughters are left with even less, earning barely two-thirds of what men take home. It’s embarrassing, it’s insulting, and it has to change. Our moms deserve more.

When given the opportunity to help close the gap last week, nine Louisiana Republicans— including Reps. Clay Schexnayder and Lenar Whitney— voted to kill the bill, denying our mothers and our daughters equal pay for equal work. Women make up nearly half the workforce in our state, but Louisiana scored the lowest of all fifty states as being the absolute worst for working moms. Republicans in the legislature offered weak excuses about market forces, and no relief, for the working mothers whose toil and whose sacrifices we honor this weekend.

“It’s dishonest for Republican lawmakers to be out there this weekend offering their best wishes to mothers in our state when they consistently fight back any effort in the legislature to address unequal pay for women,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “That’s not giving mothers our best, it’s not giving them what they have earned and what they deserve. Louisiana mothers, and Louisiana families, deserve better.”

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FRENZY OF BILLS BUT NO PLAN, THIS IS NOT WHAT LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE

BATON ROUGE – Facing a looming deadline to finally begin addressing the $1.6 billion GOP budget disaster, today Republican leadership in the state legislature lurched through a patchwork of bills and tax measures that fell far short of solving anything. Even at this late hour, with thirty-five days left in the session and Monday’s budget deadline bearing down, the top-ranking Republicans have offered no coherent plan to address this crisis. Their haphazard, last-minute Frankenstein of revenue measures amounted to barely $664 million, and is utterly inadequate to the scale of the need their failed policies have created.

The Louisiana state legislature continues to struggle beneath the weight of a crisis of leadership, a rudderless and directionless state GOP left floundering in the wake of ruinous, short-term financial decisions made in the service of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s vanity. From Jindal down to Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley, the Republican lawmakers with an iron grip on the levers of power in the Capitol have failed the test of leadership and refused to offer any semblance of a plan to responsibly address the deficit nightmare created by their financial mismanagement.

“The failure in the House to pull together nearly one billion dollars in revenue in one frantic session is hardly a surprise,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Since the legislature gaveled into session, the GOP leadership has refused to lead and been unable to offer a roadmap out of the mess their policies created. Instead, they’ve chosen to waste their time and our money denying women equal pay for equal work and attacking our vital tourism industry.”

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CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP CONTINUES IN THE LEGISLATURE AS TIME RUNS SHORT

BATON ROUGE – As another day of the 2015 legislative session slips away, the GOP leadership continues to fail the basic test of office by refusing to offer solutions to the staggering challenges presented by the $1.6 billion budgetary nightmare they created. With 36 days left on the clock, Republicans are wasting their time and taxpayers’ money with divisive distractions like making cosmetic adjustments to their discrimination legislation. In what amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, GOP leaders are busying themselves with pet projects and red meat for their special interests while they ignore the looming budget crisis.

An effort today by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, to address both the state deficit and the humanitarian crisis of working Louisianans denied healthcare, met with obstructionism from the GOP. Asking her fellow lawmakers to appreciate the urgency of their constituents needs, Sen. Peterson said: “people are going to die between now and next year,” if Medicaid expansion is passed over once again. “There is probably no bill that I have authored that is more important than this one…because this one is about life or death.”

Dr. Heidi L. Sinclair of Tulane Medical School offered practical reasons to embrace expansion, testifying: “potential state savings, in Louisiana, for uncompensated care would be $187-373 million.” But five Republicans in the legislature ignored the testimony from doctors and the pleading from their constituents, and voted to defer the bill.

Organizations including AARP, Southwest Louisiana Health Education Center and Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, Louisiana Center for Health Equity, Louisiana Budget Project, Louisiana Supported Living Network, Legislative Agenda for Women, Louisiana Progress Action, League of Women Voters, Louisiana Interchurch Conference, AFLCIO, The Links, National Organization for Women, and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops Executive Director all voiced their support for the bill. All of them were ignored by the state GOP.

“People are going to die because Republicans in the legislature refused to act,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The failure of their leadership extends beyond the budget nightmare they created, and into the lives and the livelihoods of Louisiana families. The lack of leadership is costing Louisiana taxpayers dearly.”

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LABI VIDEO TELLS THE TRUTH: HR418 IS A ‘FATAL SPEAR’ TO WORKERS RIGHTS

BATON ROUGE – Behind closed doors, the leaders of the GOP paymasters at LABI are perfectly frank with their own members as to the true intentions of the bill they’re pushing to attack the constitutional rights of Louisiana workers. In a video posted to their internal website, LABI leader Lane Grigsby says: “I want everyone to understand – is not a cost issue, per se,” adding: “It’s an issue of cutting off the funding to unions.” According to LABI, people hung up on the distracting arguments over cost benefit analysis for taxpayers are “just not getting the philosophical concept of what we’re doing here. This is a fatal spear to the heart of the giant.”

The ‘”giant” Grigsby and his fellow lobbyists are using the legislature to spear is the constitutional right to association promised to Louisiana taxpayers and American citizens everywhere. The shameless glee with which the GOP donors abandon any pretense of their public arguments about saving money or payroll protection shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with LABI’s ongoing assault on the working men and women of Louisiana.

“The LABI leadership is on video, on their own site, making liars out of Stephen Waguespack and Rep. Lance Harris and every other lobbyist and operative that has been trying to sell this bill as anything but what it is: an attack on working men and women, an attempt by the lobbyists to use the influence they purchased in the legislature to attack the constitutional freedoms of Louisiana taxpayers,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The truth is out there, in living color, and it isn’t pretty.”

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CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP IN THE LEGISLATURE: THE CLOCK IS TICKING

BATON ROUGE – With thirty-seven days left in the session, the Louisiana legislature continues to flounder, scrambling to address the GOP budget disaster that has created a $1.6 billion deficit without anything resembling a coherent plan or competent leadership. While the Republican candidates for governor crisscross Louisiana trying to sell themselves to voters as the next Bobby Jindal, not one of them has offered any leadership to pull our state back from the edge of the fiscal cliff. Senate President John Alario and Rep. Chuck Kleckley, Speaker of the House, continue to lurch from one poorly thought-out half-measure to another, without any overarching plan for solving the fiscal crisis GOP policies have inflicted on our state.

The session is evaporating, and time is at a premium. Rep. John Bel Edwards voiced his concern yesterday, noting that even at this late hour: “There is no coherent strategy.” GOP plans to shift the burden of paying for their budget disaster onto local governments are unlikely to produce even a fraction of the needed revenue, and any hope of easing the strain by finally expanding Medicaid has been pushed off until at least next year.

And through it all, none of the GOP leaders— neither those sitting in the legislature three days a week, nor the officials currently shirking their elected positions to run for higher office, have offered any real leadership. “State Republicans created this disaster,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The GOP put us in this mess, and the GOP leaders who control the legislature are ignoring their responsibility to offer solutions. They have failed the test of leadership. With each day that passes, their failure becomes that much more acute, and that much more painful for Louisiana families.”

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VITTER EMBRACES CHRISTIE’S FAMILIAR FAILURES, IGNORES ECONOMIC RECORD

BATON ROUGE — Two sitting Republican governors, both flirting with the media and laying the groundwork for doomed presidential campaigns, both running from their records at home while they pretend to run for president. Two failed GOP leaders with abysmal approval ratings in their home states, stumping for higher office while ignoring the budget nightmares their policies created.

The key difference as far as Sen. David Vitter is concerned is that Gov. Chris Christie is able to raise money for him, and Gov. Bobby Jindal is not. For the families of Louisiana who have felt the pain of the GOP budget disaster and seen the results of the failed Republican policies that brought us to this point, there is even less of a distinction. Vitter will ally himself with any out-of-state interest that can help fill his campaign coffers, just like Bobby Jindal. And just like Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, David Vitter’s only discernible governing principle is what will help get him elected— not what will help the taxpayers that elected him.

“David Vitter has been in the senate for ten years, with nothing to show for it but obstructionism and failure. It’s no surprise that he’s embracing Gov. Christie, whose failures in New Jersey mirror the GOP budget disaster here in Louisiana,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “For GOP politicians like Vitter, Jindal and Christie, there’s no distinction when it comes to how their broken policies have hurt their constituents and failed their state.”

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CLAY SCHEXNAYDER AND LENAR WHITNEY VOTE TO STRIP RIGHTS FROM WORKING PEOPLE

BATON ROUGE — After hearing testimony before the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee making it clear that support for HB418 was a deliberate and willful attack on state workers, Reps. Clay Schexnayder and Lenar Whitney voted to strip firefighters, police officers, and teachers of their First Amendment rights. Schexnayder and Whitney went on record with their votes attacking men and women who risk their lives for their fellow Louisianans, who teach our children and protect our homes. Being a public servant does not mean surrendering your freedom of association, but Clay Schexnayder and his fellow Republicans voted to trample on the rights of working people throughout the state to determine for themselves how their paychecks were distributed.

Cloaked under the guise of reducing the role of state government, this bill actually does the exact opposite. Teachers and local school boards across the state appealed to the legislature not to intrude on local matters, and Louisiana police officials testified that there was no measurable cost to the state in continuing to allow state employees their freedom. Whitney and Schexnayder ignored them all, and helped push through legislation designed implicitly to harass and inconvenience the working men and women of our state. Last week, Schexnayder and Whitney both voted against giving women equal pay for equal work. This week, they fought to strip rights from teachers and police officers. Which group of Louisiana taxpayers will Schexnayder and Whitney kneecap next?

“This bill is ill-timed, it’s ill-advised and it’s ill-informed,” said Julie Cherry, Secretary of the AFL-CIO in her testimony before the committee.

Chris Stewart, president of the Baton Rouge police union, said “It is a freedom issue,” and urged lawmakers “stand with your firemen, your policemen and your teachers. Vote against this bill!”

Schexnayder and Whitney, and their Republican cohorts ignored these appeals and voted on the party line to trample workers’ rights.

Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, added: “At a time when the state is facing a $1.6 billion deficit thanks to the GOP budget nightmare, Schexnayder and Whitney are wasting their time and our money insulting the working men and women who take care of our children and protect our streets. Louisiana families deserve better, and voters won’t forget where their priorities clearly lie. October will be here before you know it.”

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EDWARDS CALLS ON LEGISLATURE: CARE FOR ‘THE LEAST OF THESE’

BATON ROUGE — In a lengthy and spirited debate before the House Health & Welfare Committee today, Rep. John Bel Edwards urged state lawmakers to let their constituents, the taxpayers of Louisiana, decide whether or not the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage. Edwards proposed legislation that would not only let the voters decide for themselves, but that would circumvent Gov. Bobby Jindal’s inevitable veto at the behest of out-of-state special interests like Grover Norquist. The bills would offer help to more than 242,000 Louisianans, including thousands of children, people struggling with disabilities and the working poor. Fighting to make the case for Louisiana families, Edwards invoked the practical and the moral implications of continuing to delay Medicaid.

“It is the right thing to do, and it is also the fiscally responsible thing to do,” said Edwards. He went on to note that “every family in the state with private insurance is paying $1K more because we do not have Medicaid expansion.” As the debate was drawn into protracted arguments over the guidance offered by scripture and our ethical responsibility to help those less fortunate, Edwards reminded his colleagues “We cannot only be concerned with the ‘thou shalt nots’, but also with the ‘thou shalls’.”

Paralyzed by partisan fear-mongering and willfully deaf to the moral arguments presented in committee, nine Republican state representatives voted against Edwards’ proposed solutions and killed the bill. Undaunted, Edwards remained determined to help Louisiana families and work to mend the GOP budget disaster, and vowed to continue his efforts to help expand healthcare access to those of our fellow citizens most desperately in need.

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CLAY SCHEXNAYDER AND LENAR WHITNEY KILL WOMEN’S PAY EQUITY

BATON ROUGE — Nine Republican lawmakers in the Louisiana House labor committee voted yesterday to deny the women of our state equal pay for equal work. Led by Reps. Clay Schexnayder and Lenar Whitney, House Republicans came down firmly against equality for our sisters, our mothers and our daughters. In a state with the worst pay gap between women and men in the entire country, GOP lawmakers are going out of their way to deny women voters equal pay for equal work.

Louisiana families are suffering while their Republican state representatives are paying lip service to the unfounded fears of their richest backers. Women make up nearly half of the labor force in our state. They are taxpayers and in an increasing number of homes, they are breadwinners. They deserve the dignity of equal treatment under the law on payday.

Instead of supporting equality for women, Whitney and Schexnayder voted with Rep. Lance Harris, who offered the thin hope that “market forces will remedy the situation.” He and his fellow Republicans have made it clear that, given the opportunity to do so, they will not.

“At a time when the pay gap is only widening, Reps. Whitney and Schexnayder owe voters some answers.  Actually they owe all of the women of this state an apology,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Standing up and fighting for the status quo hurts all families here in Louisiana.  Clearly Whitney and Schexnayder are part of the problem and certainly are not part of the solution.  Voters will remember this in October.”

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INVENTORY TAX REPEAL THREATENS FUNDS FOR LOCAL GOVERMENTS

BATON ROUGE — As the Louisiana State Legislature continues to grapple with the devastating impact of the GOP budget disaster and the $1.6 billion deficit it created, a plan has emerged that proposes to shift part of the burden onto local governments. Under the guise of repealing the inventory tax, lawmakers are seeking to paper over holes in the state budget at the expense of small towns throughout Louisiana.

By scrapping the inventory tax, the state legislature would deprive small, local governments of vital revenue— ultimately without putting a dent in the state budget disaster. The Legislative Fiscal Office found that the initial iteration of the plan would produce zero savings in the next year, and represent an annual loss to local governments of up to $630 million. Local government leaders expressed grave reservations.

Testifying yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee, Parish President Natalie Robottom of St. John the Baptist Parish said: “At this point there’s not a comfort level on the local government side with what’s taking place today.”

Republican Bernard Broussard, Iberia Parish Councilman, warned of increased hospital costs and teacher layoffs before concluding: “It’ll effect us dramatically at a local level.”

Sheriff Mike Waguespack of Assumption Parish pushed back on the idea of locals being forced to bail out the state government. “The locals didn’t put you in this situation,” adding “I think the state is giving away the farm. They’ve really made it even more difficult for the locals to survive.” And St. Martin Parish President Guy Cormier likewise emphasized: “We find ourselves caught in a situation that we didn’t cause.”

Other leaders were even more emphatic. “St. James Parish will be shut down,” warned Tim Roussel, Parish President for St. James. “State government has a hole in their budget. To patch it with our money is to put 240 more holes in local government, all of the local governments.” He added: “I don’t believe the rest of the legislature can afford to have 244 governments almost go broke.”

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VITTER MARKS FIVE YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR BP, AGAINST LOUISIANA FAMILIES

BATON ROUGE — Five years ago today, the BP oil spill began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in environmental catastrophe and financial disaster for the Louisiana families that rely on gulf waters for their livelihood. In the immediate aftermath of the spill, Sen. David Vitter sprang into action, using his first act as a senator in an effort to protect BP, not the taxpayers that elected him. His initial plan, to potentially cap BP’s liability for the disaster at $150 million when the total projected impact was well north of $20 billion, missed the mark by an order of magnitude. While Vitter ultimately failed to insulate BP from the financial consequences, his priorities were laid bare: when Louisiana families were hurting, Vitter’s first instinct was to protect the billionaire companies who created the problem.

In his efforts to put Louisiana taxpayers on the hook for the damage BP’s negligence created, Sen. Vitter went through a convoluted, complicated series of schemes. As he attempts to persuade voters to make him the next Bobby Jindal, his logic remains likewise murky. Like Jindal, Vitter took his oath to Grover Norquist and remains beholden to out of state special interests, regardless of the cost to Louisiana families. Vitter would like voters to believe he’s a changed man who’ll happily break that oath if elected governor. But promising one thing to voters and delivering another to the moneyed interests that installed you is a time-honored GOP tradition, one that Vitter knows well.

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On Equal Pay for Women, Vitter Votes No Every Time

BATON ROUGE — As we mark Equal Pay Day, the date representing how far into the new year an average woman in America would have to work to be paid the same as her male counterparts were in 2014, it’s important to remember the repeated failure of Sen. David Vitter to vote in support of pay equality. When given the opportunity to stand up for women in Louisiana and throughout our country, Vitter voted no. He voted no against the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2008, and again in 2010.

Given another opportunity to lead and to be an advocate for women’s equality when he was re-elected to the Senate, Vitter again failed the test and voted against Paycheck Fairness in 2012 and in 2014. He also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. His ratings from women’s advocacy groups, including the American Association of University Women, are a dismal 20 percent. Four-fifths of the time, he votes against efforts to address women’s economic equality. 100 percent of the time, Vitter fails the test of leadership and refuses to stand up and demand equal pay for equal work.

“As he campaigns to follow Governor Jindal’s path into the governor’s mansion, Sen. Vitter tries to pretend that he’s a different man than the one who took his oath to Grover Norquist, that he’s not as extreme as his record explicitly shows him to be,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “His opposition to equal pay for our mothers, our daughters and our sisters is out of step with Louisiana values, and it hurts Louisiana families.”

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Jindal Addresses Sorry State of the State, Ignores the State He’s Leaving Us in

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal today addressed the legislature in what was mercifully his final state of the state speech, with remarks which willfully ignored the misery his failed policies have inflicted on Louisiana families and served mainly as the rough draft of his Iowa stump speech. Instead of using the occasion to address the grave financial disaster the taxpayers of our state are facing, Gov. Jindal wasted his time and ours appealing to the most aggrieved elements of his base— railing against education reform and lobbying for legalized discrimination.

Left largely unaddressed was the $1.6 billion budget deficit his failures have left taxpayers to clean up. Already wrestling with the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the country thanks to Jindal and the GOP, Louisiana families must also contend with $70 million in tuition and fee increases for college students. Claiming not to have raised taxes ignores their pain, and ignores the disaster his failed policies have created. While Louisiana colleges are facing an 82 percent cut this coming school year, Governor Jindal has spent vast quantities of his time and our money campaigning out of state.

Stephen Handwerk, Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party said: “Governor Jindal has failed the leadership test. Instead of offering real solutions, he made a glancing reference to ‘heartburn’ in the legislature caused by the GOP budget disaster, and he disingenuously attempted to pin all the blame on falling oil prices. The truth is our state was already burdened with a $1.2 billion shortfall due to his financial mismanagement prior to the shift in energy prices. And for Louisiana families and taxpayers concerned with balancing the budget, that is a source of heartbreak.”

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The Top Five Myths that Bobby Jindal Wants Louisianians to Believe

Baton Rouge, La – In anticipation of the 2015 legislative session beginning next Monday, the Louisiana Democratic Party has compiled the top five myths that Gov. Jindal has been pushing to Louisianians.

MYTH: Louisiana’s economy is stronger than ever.

REALITYAs of January 2015, Louisiana recorded the third highest unemployment rate nationwide. Two major credit agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, moved Louisiana’s credit outlook to “negative,” citing Jindal’s poor budget practices that have left the state vulnerable to financial problems.

MYTH: Gov. Jindal will not raise taxes.

REALITY: Jindal’s current budget builds in $70 million from tuition increases and proposes fees on college students and their families, a tax by any other name, on top of already increasing tuition and fees for college students throughout his tenure.  State institutions of higher education are facing a $226-$600 million cut in funding in the next fiscal year, which may cause certain programs to lose viability and schools to lose accreditation or shut down. Louisiana has cut higher education funding six times more than other states, and colleges are facing an 82 percent cut in the upcoming school year.

MYTH: Oil prices are to blame for the $1.6 billion budget hole.

REALITY: Jindal and his Republican allies in the state legislature authorized the largest tax cut in Louisiana history, resulting in a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion before oil prices dropped.

MYTH: The failing charity hospital system has been modernized under public-private partnerships.

REALITY: Jindal’s budget proposal is $142 million short of the funding needed for basic operating costs. The Advocate labeled the public-private partnership “the Jindal Administration’s experiment.” His refusal to expand Medicaid has exacerbated the problem.

MYTH: Gov. Jindal rejects Obamacare and offers a viable replacement.

REALITY: Gov. Jindal has accepted $60 million in federal funding under the President’s health care plan and has unveiled a costly alternative plan totaling well over $100 billion in spending.

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