Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Spots in Congress, BESE, Legislature at stake in Saturday’s election

Voters in 41 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes will go to the polls Saturday, with openings in Congress, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana Legislature at stake.

Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, both Democratic state senators from New Orleans, are seeking to replace Cedric Richmond to represent southeast Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Richmond won reelection last year but stepped down to take a job in President Joe Biden’s administration.

Republican Michael Melerine and Democrat Cassie Williams are competing to replace Tony Davis to represent northwestern Louisiana’s 4th BESE district. Eddie Connick and Laurie Schlegel, both Republicans, are competing in a special election for the state House of Representatives’ Jefferson Parish-based 82nd District.

An appeals court judgeship, local races and referendums also will be on some ballots. More information is available at voterportal.sos.la.gov.

Unemployment rates fall in every region

Louisiana’s unemployment rate fell from February to March by 0.5 percentage points to 6.6%, the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported Friday, citing numbers that had not been adjusted to reflect seasonal workforce trends.

March was the second consecutive month in which the non-adjusted rate fell in all nine of the state’s metro areas. The number of people who are employed increased month-to-month by more than 27,000, though total employment was down by almost 109,000 compared with March 2020.

Leisure and hospitality added 4,900 jobs, more than any other business sector. The Alexandria area had the lowest unemployment rate of 4.4%, while the New Orleans region had the highest at 8%.

State tourism office: Film, TV worth up to $2.5B in tourism revenue

Film and TV productions set in Louisiana helped spur between $1 billion and $2.5 billion in tourism spending in the state, according to a study by the Louisiana Office of Tourism and New Orleans research firm MDRG.

“Louisiana’s unique culture, food and history are the subjects and backdrops for a huge variety of films, documentaries and TV shows year after year,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said. “We are excited to showcase and promote filming locations as destinations for visitors as we welcome them back to Louisiana.”

Louisiana state government subsidizes film and TV production though $180 million in tax credits redeemed annually. Critics of the program point to a state-backed study that shows each dollar in tax credit only returns 35 cents in tax revenue, while supporters refer to that same study’s finding that each dollar spurs more than $6 in spending.

Think tank’s poll finds strong support for school districts posting tax financial information

A large majority of Louisiana residents believe government entities, and school districts in particular, should post information about how they spend tax dollars, according to a poll commissioned by the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank.

Asked whether “you agree or disagree that units of government should publicly post financial information showing how they spend public tax dollars,” 74% “strongly agree” and 13% “somewhat agree.” Asked whether “local school districts should publicly post financial information showing how they spend public tax dollars,” 80% “strongly agree” and 14% “somewhat agree.” The poll had 510 responses and a margin of error of 4.3%.

Pelican supports House Bill 38 by Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, which calls for public school governing authorities to post their financial information on the state’s Louisiana Checkbook website. The bill is scheduled for a House Appropriations Committee hearing Monday.