On this edition of "Wingin' It Wednesday" panelist Carol Ross, Mike Stagg, and Nicholas Bouterie joined "Mornings with Ken and Bernie" to discuss Lafayette Parish School System's ongoing battle between superintendent and schoolboard as well as the Fiscal Hawks' response to Governor Jindal's budget.

Here's what the panel had to say:

1. Lafayette Parish School Supt. Dr. Pat Cooper says more taxes are needed for the district’s ‘turn around’ plan to be successful.  Do you think voters will agree to more taxes especially in light of recent controversies?

Mike Stagg started us off:

Absolutely it will take more money to improve the physical lafayette parish schools and to make the investment to make the school system the school system we all should want it to be, but at the heart of the conservative attack on public education is an anti civil society message.
They fundamentally do not believe any public interest tumps a private interest.
These are the people that have been about the work pulling up the latter behind them over the last 40 years, the latter of public education, higher education, and all the other tools that were made available to them to lift themselves up, and now they won't allow those tools to be allowed to others. It's a fundamentally anti-community attitude, I got mine - you figure out a way to get yours.

Carol Ross added:

Who pays for public education? The people who also pay for private education. They pay taxes for both systems, but what are we getting out of our public education system, and what has changed since the last time the voters said "we do not want to give you more money until you show a responsible attitude toward this."
The board and the Superintendent are in an all-out war right now. You cannot have this all-out war and expect to have progress or expect the voters to give more money. The superintendent wants to put nurseries and health professionals in the schools, but what about getting back to the basics.

Nicholas Bouterie countered:

I live in Acadia Parish so I'll let Carol and Mike discuss this further. I will say that where I live in the community of Iota, Iota high school was a B last year and will receive an A scoring this year, and what you have there is a community that's really proud of their school. I'm not saying that's not the case in Lafayette Parish, but I think the biggest factor seems to be community involvement and pride in their schools.

2. Governor Jindal is angry with members of the House for passing bills out of committee to limit or  eliminate  some  state  tax breaks for business.  Do you think the Governor is upset because his plan failed to get out of the starting gate and so wants to block efforts by legislators?

Nick commented:

I've become pretty good friends with State Reps John Schroader and Simone Champaigne who are two of the major leaders of the Fiscal Hawk group. Having said that, the plan released yesterday, I personally can't vouch for it. I'm not in favor of some of the tax increases on oil and gas and manufacturing which the economy in Louisiana. Having said that, last year the Hawks led a charge and cut $250 million from the Governors budget. There was no revenue increases in it. It was cuts. They were being conservatives at that point in time. When they got it out the house to the Senate, Jindal lined up his people in Senate committee to testify, they bad mouthed the Hawks in the media, and they got the money put back in. You didn't hear any complaints from the state leadership party. They hid under their desks. But now that we have this issue, the state Republican party is attacking.
Do I like this plan they put out? Not really, I don't care for it, but at the same time we can't continue down the avenue that Governor Jindal has led us which has been patchwork for the last three years.

Mike responded:

I think the real issue here is that the Governor road a massive influx of federal dollars during his first term to conceal what was really taking place, the shipping of the tax burden off of corporations onto the backs of working families in the form of higher tuitions, higher costs for other things. What's happened is they've been lying all along, they have been cutting essential services. We've reached the point where legislatures of both parties have had enough of this and they can't take anymore pain being afflicted on their constituents so they stepped up to the plate.
The Fiscal Hawks deserve applause for their willingness to take on the budget, but you can't do it with cuts alone. You need more revenue, and tax exemptions are spending. A tax exemption is an expenditure of government money just as sure as a line item in the budget.

Carol surmised:

I find it interesting that Mike thinks the Fiscal Hawks and the Democrats are doing such a great job this year when it's similar to what they did last year.
The good news is they're trying to having more legislative independence. The bad news is that this is not the way to go about it. Between Jindal's plan and this plan there has to be a happy median.

Click on the play button below for the complete audio.

Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think about today’s Wingin’ It Wednesday topics. Who got it right, who got it wrong, and who was way off? Let us know in the comment section.

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