Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on state budget:
Past the halfway point, amid a great deal of acrimony, there is a strange feeling at the State Capitol that the legislative session hasn't really begun.
That's because the budget, the main event, is not yet moving through the legislative process. Until that happens, a sense of anticipation - if not foreboding - has set in. ...
It is not that legislators and staff haven't been busy, and the legislative leadership certainly has been. The Senate and House leaders have been in negotiations over the first order of business, a supplemental appropriations bill that will cover the shortfalls in the current budget year that ends June 30.
The legislators appear ready to tap the "rainy day" fund to fill that hole, and then talk about replenishing the fund. Keeping some money in reserve, wisely, has been a key priority for Gov. Bobby Jindal. He and lawmakers haven't demonstrated a lot of financial prudence in this term, but even they can see that the end of President Barack Obama's stimulus funds will mean yawning gaps between revenue and expenses in the next two years.
To some extent, the late "start" of the session is because the governor is distracted, appropriately enough, by the protection of the coast from the Deepwater Horizon oil leak disaster. Still, there's also a feeling that legislators want some sort of budget package that, while formally tending only to the current year shortfall and the 2011 fiscal year that begins July 1, also will anticipate the shortfalls of the 2012 fiscal year.
Without significant new revenue - and the state constitution forbids raising taxes in this year's session - it's hard to see what kind of "grand bargain" package would deal with problems so far ahead.
Nor does it seem in the public's interest that a grim budget bill be rushed through at the very last minute. That would deny lawmakers - and their constituents - a fair look at what trade-offs are necessary to deal with the state's fiscal situation.
The calendar is important: The foreboding about the 2012 fiscal year is important to lawmakers and Jindal. That year begins on July 1, 2011. That's just before legislators and the governor qualify to seek re-election. A calamitous budget in an election year is something every politician seeks to avoid.
The Courier, Houma, La., on more challenges for Louisiana's state bird:
The brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird, is facing a daunting future, one that is imperiled by the Gulf oil spill.
The current difficulties and uncertainty before the brown pelican are doubly frustrating to those who have watched for decades as the species struggled to survive and rebuild its numbers after nearly going extinct in the 1960s.
The pesticide DDT caused the bird's eggs to form thin shells that rarely survived the incubation process to hatch chicks. Once the chemical was banned in 1972, the bird's numbers began to rebound.
In recent years, scientists and bird-watchers have rejoiced in the fact that it has made huge strides worldwide and, thanks to some transplants of nesting birds, even returned to the Louisiana coast in large numbers.
Although they have made a miraculous and hard-fought comeback, they still have just a tenuous hold on survival - a hold that is threatened by the oil spill.
"They're still just clinging to existence," said David Ringer, a National Audubon Society spokesman. ...
Perhaps the pelican can again be a symbol of hope and accomplishment when we decide to fix something we have broken.
We will certainly have chances in the coming months and years to examine the damage done to the environment in and around the Gulf of Mexico.
Before we get that far, of course, we have to see the ongoing flow of oil shut off and the beginning of the damage assessment that will begin to tell us how much is broken and how much of it can be fixed.
The pelican is facing another tough challenge, but it has more than earned its status as state bird by showing resilience in the face of possible extinction.
Here's hoping it can again fight back from terrible circumstances.
The Daily Star, Hammond, La., on the ineffective response to the Gulf oil leak:
It's hard to sit by while our precious Gulf of Mexico is being destroyed by oil.
We want to give hair, but the latest word is hair is not feasible for soaking up the oil and we should stop collecting it. Our fishermen have helped set out boom, knowing in their hearts that it's a desperate, probably vain effort that doesn't begin to solve the crisis on the surface or below. We watch with keen interest as BP tries this and that, only to be forced to admit it's not working and they don't know how much oil is gushing out and it's far more oil than they have been willing to admit previously. Louisiana residents want to build sand berms to protect the marshlands, and the National Guard works day and night, but the Corps of Engineers seems to be dragging its feet.
We are angry and frustrated. We want something done, and if necessary we are willing and ready to do it ourselves.
But the bitter reality is, in our nation today, Big Business enjoys a cozy relationship with Big Government that acts against the best interests of ordinary citizens, who are, of course, most of us. Not only are they acting against us, but they are not even listening to us.
Just like the 11 oil rig workers who died and the vast wildlife and fish that are bathing in oil and dying, we don't count anymore.
It's time for our government and Big Business to start thinking about ordinary American citizens and our greatest treasure, the environment.