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Posts from the ‘Releases’ Category

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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Jindal and the GOP’s Priorities: Not for Louisiana

The week before Louisiana’s legislative session starts, Gov. Bobby Jindal is traveling out-of-state again on the taxpayers’ dime, even though there are clearly more pressing issues to address at home.

Like the $1.6 billion budget hole he created that has already caused a lot of doom and gloom in drastic cuts to higher education and health care.

 We all know that the cuts will keep on coming under Republican leadership. It’s just a question of how many millions they want to take away from our college students and people who are sick.

 

We don’t need leaders who seek approval from special interests like Grover Norquist before doing their jobs.

VitterNorquistBFFs

We need elected officials who will put Louisiana first, who have the courage to raise the minimum wage, vote for equal pay for women, expand Medicaid and protect higher education.

Democrats have been fighting for these core values and will continue to do so in the upcoming legislative session. 


But the GOP will just keep kicking the can down the road.

PatricksToDos

To them, why change course? This year is just another one of false promises to get through the fall election. 


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IT’S WORSE THAN YOU THINK: GOP’S BUDGET DISASTER WILL WRECK STUDENT TESTING

BATON ROUGE — As the full ramifications of the GOP’s budget disaster continue to unfold, it’s clear the situation our governor-in-absentia has created is even worse than initially understood. This week the Louisiana education superintendent, John White, told the House Appropriations Committee that the current spending plan would wreck the state’s ability to measure student performance. On top of the brutal hit higher education has taken under the GOP’s gross financial mismanagement, the $1.6 billion budget gap inflicted on taxpayers now threatens to put our education department in violation of state and federal laws.

Such violations will inflict still more pain on Louisiana families, with approximately $800 million in federal education money lost as a result. And at today’s budget hearing, Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo noted that the inevitable tuition increases the draconian GOP budget demands will have the effect of driving down enrollment.

“At a time when Louisiana’s support for higher education is mired at the very bottom of state rankings across the country, it’s devastating to see how badly Republican mismanagement of taxpayer money is going to impact Louisiana families and the dreams they have for their children,” said Stephen Handwerk, Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

With the threat of public bankruptcy of Louisiana higher education looming as the legislature gavels back into session next week, Louisiana Democrats return to the fight eager to protect those dreams and to restore fiscal responsibility to a state government the GOP has been content to run into the ground on autopilot. We can, and we must, do better than this.

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Will Sen. Vitter Back Rand Paul’s Extreme Agenda for President?

 Paul and Vitter are Out-of-Touch with Louisiana

Baton Rouge, La – Before Sen. Rand Paul announced his quixotic quest for the presidency on Tuesday, he threw his weight behind trying to influence the Louisiana gubernatorial race. Paul endorsed Sen. David Vitter this spring citing their similarities and shared views on policies that demonstrably hurt Louisiana families. In response to Paul’s announcement, the Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk released the following statement:

“The Rand Paul-David Vitter agenda is terrible for every Louisianian, including women, college students and those still denied health coverage. They favor Washington special interests like Grover Norquist over hardworking people all across the state.

“Both of these men oppose raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, even though it would put more money in the pockets of our families. And they both oppose efforts to close the pay gap, even though Louisiana women earn only 67 cents to every dollar a man makes, the largest gender pay gap in the country.

“Rand Paul and David Vitter both voted against legislation that would allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at lower rates, which would have benefitted 330,000 Louisiana students at a time when the GOP’s disastrous budget has slashed funding for higher education.

“The agenda Rand Paul and David Vitter are pushing likewise does not expand Medicaid, which would provide the much-needed funds for our state hospitals and enable Louisiana tax payers to begin rebuilding from the debacle the GOP budget created.

“On issue after issue, Rand Paul and David Vitter’s extreme views have proven to be bad news for Louisiana. Neither of them can be counted upon to do what is best for our state and for our country.”

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Louisiana Democratic Party Adds New Political Director, Communications Director

BATON ROUGE— The Louisiana Democratic Party is proud to announce the addition of two senior staffers, each of whom bring a wealth of experience and national calibre talent to the crucial mission of helping Democrats get elected in Louisiana.

Roderick Scott, the newly appointed Political Director, is a seasoned campaigner with decades of experience working for Democratic officials on every level. After building a background in the private sector as a lobbyist managing communications for two Fortune 500 companies, the Baton Rouge native is returning to the fight at the forefront of the statewide political operation.

“I’m proud to be a part of the effort to turn Louisiana blue again, and to work with Democrats all over the state to bring relief to Louisiana families impacted by the GOP’s draconian budget cuts, ” Scott said.

Beau Tidwell, the new Communications Director, spent nearly a decade honing his skills as a journalist in the heart of the newsroom at The New York Times. Brought to New Orleans to help navigate the emerging digital media landscape on staff at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, he joins the Party with a deep skill-set in new and traditional media.

“Going into the next election cycle, I am excited beyond words at the opportunity to help the Louisiana Democrats re-take the Governor’s mansion this fall and to help articulate our message of putting Louisiana’s families first,” said Tidwell. “It’s time to turn the page on the failed policies Vitter and Jindal have saddled our state with, to stop letting the futile ambitions of also-ran career politicians dictate and defy state policy.”

“The Louisiana Democratic Party family could not be happier with these two talented men joining us in our day to day fight for Louisiana Values as we return to basics in our state,” said Karen Carter Peterson, Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party.  “They both bring a wealth of resources to help evolve two mission critical departments inside our operations.”

Both positions report to Executive Director, Stephen Handwerk, and will work closely with Party chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson. For interviews and media inquiries please contact Beau Tidwell at (225) 224-3734.

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Lt. Gov. Dardenne Won’t Discuss Voter Purges on Announcement Tour

 Dardenne Now Wants the Votes He Once Tried to Dump  

Baton Rouge, La – At the kick-off of his gubernatorial announcement tour on Monday, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne hoped Louisianians would forget that he once tried to purge registered voters from the rolls. As secretary of state in 2007, Dardenne embarked on a large-scale effort to denying voting rights to those hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, less than two years after the destruction.

“Now that Lieutenant Governor Dardenne wants us to give him a promotion, he is hoping that we will forget that he denied tens of thousands of Louisianians the right to cast a ballot,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “At a time when our state was still trying to rebuild from a natural disaster, our lieutenant governor had the wrong priorities and chose to contribute to the anguish our families felt. We couldn’t count on him to be a productive leader then, and we certainly cannot expect him fix our state now.”

Dardenne’s efforts drew national attention as the NAACP filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state for violating federal law.

JINDAL PUTS HIS MONEY (AND HIS STAFF) WHERE HIS HEART IS: ANYWHERE BUT HERE

NOT BATON ROUGE, NOT LOUISIANA— Ahead of what is already being called a doomed and delusional run for the Republican presidential nomination, Governor Bobby Jindal has relocated two of his executive staff to Iowa where they will set aside the pretense of working for the people of Louisiana and instead take positions promoting their failed policies to potential caucus-goers. While the families of Louisiana struggle to absorb the draconian cuts to higher education and support for domestic violence victims inflicted by Jindal’s budget, his remaining in-state staff will reward themselves with promotions and six-figure salaries at tax payer expense.

The dead-on-arrival campaign Jindal’s former executive staffers have been dispatched to sell Iowa voters is yet another instance of the waste and delusional self-regard that have driven the Governor-in-absentia to treat the people of Louisiana and the voters that elected him as an afterthought, a stepping stone to higher office for which he is fundamentally unfit.  And with the Louisiana State Police reporting a gross increase in travel expenses for Jindal’s security team last year in pursuit of this vanity project, Louisiana tax payers can be certain we haven’t seen the end of the exorbitant bills we’ll continue to be stuck with.

This level of fiscal irresponsibility and disdain for the taxpayers of Louisiana is yet one more wasteful project Louisiana families can ill afford.

Sen. Vitter Celebrates April Fools’ Day by Pretending to Care about Southern University Students

Vitter’s Record on Civil Rights and Student Issues is a Joke

Baton Rouge, La – Sen. David Vitter has decided to speak at Southern University on Wednesday, which just happens to coincide with April Fools’ Day. Here are five things he should explain in his address that are no laughing matter:

  1. Blocking the Senate confirmation of Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General
    Vitter announced his opposition to Lynch’s nomination well in advance of her testimony before his Senate Judiciary Committee. Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General. Civil Rights leaders have sent Vitter a letter accusing him of using the nomination to score points in his gubernatorial campaign.
  1. Standingwith Rep. Steve Scalise in opposing a resolution apologizing for slavery as a Louisiana state representative
    Scalise and Vitter both served on a House Committee that considered the resolution, introduced by now-state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb. Vitter stated at the time “[An] apology is an admission of guilt.”
  1. Opposing enforcement efforts of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)
    Since 2011, Vitter has taken issue with a section of the NVRA that requires state assistance agencies to provide voter registration forms. In fact, Vitter opposed the provision so much that he came out against then-civil rights attorney Tom Perez’s nomination for Secretary of Labor, just two hours after President Obama’s announcement.
  1. Voting againstincreasing financial aid for college costs, including Federal Pell Grants
    Vitter opposed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which still provides for college cost savings today. It reauthorized and increased Pell Grants, cut student loan interest rates and expanded financial aid eligibility.
  1. Wanting to change our U.S. Constitution to stop U.S.-born citizenship and this racist and distorted campaign ad
    Vitter recently proposed an amendment to stop automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S. This would do away with the 14th Amendment, historically adopted to recognize African-American rights to citizenship. Vitter is no stranger to racial fear mongering, as evidenced by his 2010 campaign ad.

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Democratic State Central Committee Announces Endorsements for Governor and Secretary of State Candidates

Edwards and Tyson Will Put Louisiana’s Middle-Class Families First

Baton Rouge, La – The Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) was proud to announce the endorsements of Rep. John Bel Edwards for governor and Prof. Chris Tyson for secretary of state at a Saturday meeting at the State Capitol. Both endorsements were made in accordance with the rules and bylaws of the DSCC.

“Louisiana Democrats are proud to support two candidates who are committed to helping working people in our state,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Representative Edwards is a leader who will be ready on day one to make sure that families can to earn a living wage and that every child has access to quality health care and a good education. Professor Tyson will turn the page on the current secretary of state’s outdated practices and bring innovation to the business-government relationship. He will ensure that every Louisianian has a voice at the ballot box. Our candidates will turn back the repercussions of Bobby Jindal’s failed leadership.”

The DSCC also endorsed resolutions on the following issues:

Fair housing and employment so that individuals will not face discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity

  • Prevention of mass incarceration
  • Raising the minimum wage
  • Preserving retirement benefits
  • Equal pay for equal work of Louisiana’s workers
  • Medicaid expansion
  • Restoring funding for higher education
  • Restoring funding to agencies that support domestic violence victims
  • Adding a right-to-vote amendment to the U.S. Constitution

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Louisiana Will Lose Presidential Primary Under Gov. Jindal’s Budget

Sec. Schedler Says Current Budget Plan Does Not Fund Primary or Voter Outreach

Baton Rouge, La- Secretary of State Tom Schedler testified in front of the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that Gov. Jindal’s current budget does not provide the funds to hold next year’s presidential primary, and he will be forced to eliminate his office’s voter outreach program as well.  Especially troubling is that this announcement comes on the heels of the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the historic March in Selma.

“This is an absolute outrage and a complete abdication of core responsibilities of the state government,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Reasonable people can have robust conversations about the role and size of government – but surely we should all be able to agree that one role of government is to oversee fair and impartial elections.  Eliminating Louisiana’s voice in the choice of our next president is unacceptable.”

Given the timing and recent polls, Peterson went on to question the reason for this drastic position taken by the Governor. “One must ask the question – is he doing this because he knows he couldn’t win in his own state? How much more will Louisiana have to sacrifice at the altar of Bobby Jindal’s presidential ambitions?”

Jindal garnered a mere two percent support from the most recent Iowa presidential primary poll, and a Republican poll has shown Jindal with a 27 percent approval rating in Louisiana.

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Sen. Vitter Was Pro-Grover Norquist Before Running for Governor

VitterNorquist Sen. Vitter (far right) pictured with Grover Norquist (far left).
Image courtesy of the AP

BATON ROUGE, LA – After noticing the havoc of Washington special interests on Louisiana’s state budget, Sen. David Vitter decided that his close friendship with Grover Norquist needed a break. When asked if he will renew his pledge to Norquist’s lobbyist group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), to oppose any and all tax increases, Vitter stated:

“I’ve made it crystal clear that, as Louisiana’s next governor, I’ll make Louisiana-based decisions that are best for us here, not ones based on what some Washington group dictates.”

But just two years ago, Vitter and Norquist were close allies in their effort to shut down the government, holding a joint press conference to deliberatively triple the cost of health care for government workers.

“Sen. Vitter is basically admitting that he has not been making Louisiana-based decisions that were in the best interests of his constituents as a Louisiana senator and that his actions will only change if he is elected governor,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Telling Louisianians that you will only look out for their interests if elected governor is disgraceful, just like shutting down the government.”

Vitter, along with Gov. Bobby Jindal and 32 other state and federal elected officials, have signed the ATR pledge.  The pledge binds candidates to oppose any and all tax increases, even in the event of a crisis or natural disaster. The pledge has come under scrutiny recently from state legislators because of its influence on Jindal’s decisions concerning a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

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LDP Statement on Gov. Jindal’s Budget Proposal

Baton Rouge, LA – Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk released the following statement on the governor’s state budget proposal for the 2015-2016 fiscal year:

“There is still much to be desired in Gov. Jindal’s budget. The reductions of $567 million in higher education funding saddle our college students and their families with an exorbitant tab. Louisianians also cannot afford a $235 million cut from state health services at a time when our hospitals are struggling to serve their communities. It is clear that Gov. Jindal’s presidential ambitions are preventing state agencies from serving their fundamental purpose. We hope that the coming legislative session will help him get back to the basics.”

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State Legislators Concerned Over Governor Jindal’s Disrespectful Remarks to the Office of the U.S. Presidency & His Lack of Interest in State Budget Crisis

Jindal’s Remarks Disrespect the Office He Seeks 

Baton Rouge, LA – Today, Louisiana lawmakers reacted to the disrespectful and hurtful comments Gov. Jindal made defending former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and worsened by his White House press conference.

Last week, Gov. Jindal released a formal statement of support after former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s controversial comments on President Obama. Jindal also called the ex-mayor to congratulate him the day after the remarks took place. Jindal was neither prompted for comment nor present at the event.  On Monday, Jindal took to the White House to declare the President “unfit to be commander in chief,” doubling down on his comments last week.

“Governor Jindal embarrassed himself and his state this past week” said state Rep. Katrina Jackson.  “It is highly disappointing that our governor would choose to question whether our President loves our country.  Has it really come to this?  Regretfully this governor and the former mayor of New York have taken politics to a new low.  Governor Jindal’s lack of focus on our state’s current budget crisis and continued need to promote division does absolutely nothing to aid the people of Louisiana.  As legislators continue to work across party lines in an effort to solve our most pressing needs for basic human services such as Education and Healthcare, we find ourselves continuously calling him home to focus on those who elected him.”

The legislators voiced concerns that these episodes pointed to the misplaced priorities of state Republicans. Jindal’s frequent absences from the state and gaffe-filled national appearances have shown that solving the $1.6 billion budget crisis isn’t his top priority. While he has proposed that his own office budget only be cut by $10,000 (less than one tenth of one percent), other statewide offices and departments face millions in reductions. In the days surrounding the release of his budget, Gov. Jindal will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland and a Florida summit sponsored by the Club for Growth.

“Louisiana citizens are calling on our governor to work with legislators to solve Louisiana’s problems” said state Rep. Ed Price. “At a time when we need his attention back home, he rather talk about Rudy Giuliani, and worse. He is telling us to tighten our belts but refuses to downsize his own office. Our hospitals and universities are in dire straits, but he gets to travel all over the country with state campaign funds and our tax dollars.”

“No one in Louisiana has time to weigh in on petty gossip including the Governor.   His out of state schedule seriously impairs his ability to meet with legislators and constituents and focus on Louisiana,” said state Rep. Ledricka Thierry. “He wants to reduce funding for our public universities by $300 million, leaving students and their families holding the bag. Our hospitals don’t have enough money to serve the community, but he can jet around to fancy events all over the country.”

Gov. Jindal’s recent budget outlined a $13 million cut to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, along with a loss of $8 million in federal matching funds. His refusal to expand Medicaid will cost the state $1.8 billion a year in federal dollars.

“Governor Jindal must join with legislators to put an end to this crisis,” said state Rep. Regina Barrow.  “We need to expand Medicaid, protect higher education opportunities, pass equal pay for our working families. I don’t know what‘s worse, the governor’s rejection or his absence from the discussion entirely. The governor should worry less about the job he wants and focus on the job he has.”

 

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Jindal Courts Beltway Elites With Gaffe-Filled Tour

DC Media to Bobby: We’re Just Not That Into You

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is back in Baton Rouge today for a damage-control call with Moody’s — which is warning of a credit downgrade — but his trip this week to pay court to the D.C. media was mostly a belly flop into the burgeoning pool of GOP presidential contenders.

“For a guy who claims not to care what Beltway elites think, Governor Jindal certainly spends a lot of time pandering to them,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “He’s spent half the week in Washington, hanging out with MSNBC hosts and speaking at clubby breakfast meetings, as the state of Louisiana sinks further into debt.”

Here are some of the highlights from Jindal’s Beltway media tour:

NOLA.com reached out to Larry Sabato, whose Crystal Ball published a ranking of the GOP presidential field and put Jindal in the fourth tier, for his assessment of Jindal’s tour. Sabato said, “Jindal has not exactly taken the Republican contest by storm, so I suppose you can argue that these events, while unfortunate, have at least gotten his name into the headlines around the country.”

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Rand Paul Takes Break from Vaccine Denialism to Endorse David Vitter for Governor

Rand: “The people of Louisiana deserve a governor like David Vitter”

BATON ROUGE — David Vitter got an endorsement today from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who said last week that most vaccines should be “voluntary” and that he knew of children who developed “profound mental disorders” after being vaccinated.

“David Vitter must be truly desperate for support in his incipient gubernatorial campaign if he’s dragging out an endorsement from Rand Paul — a doctor that touts fake science,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Paul’s record is full of even more bizarre statements and stances, like suggesting business owners should have the right to discriminate based on race and voting against the Violence Against Women Act. By embracing Paul, Vitter is embracing this troubling record of extremism. Rand Paul is wrong — Louisiana voters deserve better than David Vitter.”

In an email today to Vitter supporters, Paul wrote, “I know that the people of Louisiana deserve a governor like David Vitter…. Throughout his time in the Senate, David Vitter has listened to the needs of the people of Louisiana and has been a strong advocate of Louisiana values.”

Here’s just a sampling of Paul’s dangerous record:

In 2010 Paul told the Louisville Courier-Journal’s editorial board that owners of private business should not have to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — landmark legislation that desegregated housing, hotels and restaurants across the country.

Paul also opposes the Violence Against Women Act and theorizes the law is unconstitutional.

Last year Paul and Vitter both voted to block equal pay legislation — despite the fact that Louisiana is ranked dead last for pay equity.

“Paul and Vitter think it’s okay to pay a woman less for doing the same job as her male colleagues, but that is the exact opposite of ‘Louisiana values,’” said Handwerk. “Louisiana women earn just 66 cents on the dollar, and we need a governor who will work to address this inequity, not stand in the way of progress. Rand Paul’s endorsement shows that Vitter is the wrong choice for Louisiana families.”

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Bobby Jindal: Out of State and Out of Touch

On Morning Joe, Jindal Shows He’s Clueless About Devastating Cuts to Higher Education

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to court Beltway elites with his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, but he demonstrated just how out of touch he’s become when he claimed a year at Louisiana State University costs less than $10,000 — it actually costs more than $20,000 for an undergrad.

“Perhaps Governor Jindal should spend more time here in Louisiana, focused on the budget crisis he’s created and the crippling cuts facing our colleges and universities, rather than rubbing elbows with D.C. media folks,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Tuition has nearly doubled since Jindal took office, and those tuition hikes are essentially tax increases on the working families of this state. Jindal showed just how out of touch he’s become when he wrongly claimed it costs less than $10,000 a year to send your child to LSU. The real price tag is more like $20,000 a year, but Jindal is simply clueless when it comes to how his failed policies are hurting Louisiana families.”

Today Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and Jindal discussed cuts to LSU:

SCARBOROUGH: “Are you going to cut funding for LSU and is it going to cost 90 percent  more for people to go to LSU?”

JINDAL: “Look I don’t know where the 90 percent, I haven’t seen the 90 percent number. We have the second lowest tuition in the south. One of the lowest tuition rates in the entire country in Louisiana.”

SCARBOROUGH: “What is the tuition for LSU for a year undergrad?”

JINDAL: “I mean I think it, look I don’t, it’s under, it’s certainly well under $10,000 when you look at fees, housing. It’s cheaper than other schools in the south, in the SEC.”

For an in-state, undergraduate student, LSU estimates the yearly cost of attendance is $20,564 ($8,758 in tuition & fees, $6,120 in housing, $4,186 in a meal plan and $1,500 for books and supplies).

A recent Politico profile of Jindal’s irresponsible budget practices noted that “Jindal’s cuts to the public colleges and universities have been the deepest of any state over the past eight years… Tuition at the public institutions will be 90 percent higher in 2015 than when Jindal took office.”

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Nearly 150K Louisianians Have Enrolled in Affordable Care Act To Date

About 9 in 10 Louisianians Are Receiving Help with Their Premiums; Average Monthly Premium Is $108

BATON ROUGE — The Affordable Care Act is helping more than 148,000 Louisianians get health insurance, and the average monthly premium for Louisianians who enrolled at HealthCare.gov is $108, according to numbers released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is huge news for the people of Louisiana, who are now able to go online, compare health insurance plans and choose the one that’s right for their family,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “The Affordable Care Act is living up to the promise of its name because the average premium for a Louisianian is right around $100 a month. Enrollment in Louisiana is up nearly 50 percent compared to 2014, and enrollment is still open through this Sunday.

“Unfortunately, Louisiana Republicans like David Vitter and Bill Cassidy are fighting to take away affordable coverage from nearly 150,000 hard-working Louisianians by repealing the Affordable Care Act. They want to put insurance companies back in charge, let them kick people off their coverage and prevent people with pre-existing conditions from getting affordable health care. In addition, Bobby Jindal is blocking coverage for more than 240,000 Louisianians by refusing federal Medicaid expansion dollars. We’ve already seen one hospital emergency room close because of Jindal’s political ambitions — how many more will we see shutter this year?”

Of the 148,552 Louisianians who got covered as of Jan. 30, 89 percent received an “advance premium tax credit” to help with the cost of their premiums. Last year about 102,000 Louisianians enrolled at HealthCare.gov. The deadline to enroll for health insurance in 2015 on HealthCare.gov is Sunday, Feb. 15.

Read HHS’s complete report here:

http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2015/MarketPlaceEnrollment/APTC/ib_APTC.pdf

UPDATE: As of Feb. 6, 157,900 Louisianians had enrolled in the Affordable Care Act.

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