Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on severe weather system:
Some weather experts are predicting a calmer-than-average hurricane season for the Gulf Coast, and we certainly hope that's the case. But the severe weather system that moved across south Louisiana this week, bringing heavy rain and strong winds, served as a powerful reminder to residents of what bad weather can do.
The storm brought gusts of up to 62 mph, downing trees and cutting off electrical power across the region. In Baton Rouge, a tree fell on a motorist's car as he was driving, but he was able to crawl out to safety. He was hospitalized with fractured vertebrae. In Jefferson Parish, the wind blew several train cars off the Huey P. Long Bridge.
Luckily, no deaths were reported from the storm. Some schools and offices remained closed on Tuesday because of continuing power outages.
Severe weather is never a welcome thing. But if there is a silver lining in this week's dark clouds, it is the opportunity that the storm offered for local officials to gain more experience in crisis management. That experience could prove helpful if even larger weather challenges threaten the Gulf Coast this hurricane season.
We commend the first responders who dealt with this week's emergency, which should also underscore to residents the importance of being prepared for bad weather.
In the meantime, we'll cross our fingers and hope the region doesn't experience another storm like this one anytime soon.
American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on keeping energy cost in check:
In Louisiana, energy is a part of our business — and business should be good. However, it seems others could be taking advantage of us when it comes to paying for that energy.
An updated analysis of the study "Energy Cost Impacts on Louisiana Families" has found that families across the state face disproportionate increases in their energy costs.
The study found that 76 million households in 31 states — and notably lower-income families in Louisiana — are more susceptible to energy price increases than families at higher income levels.
"Despite being home to an abundance of energy resources, the administration's politicized energy agenda has led to higher electricity costs that Louisiana can ill afford," said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, in a news release. "As a result, families are often presented with unplanned for, staggering electric bills during the coldest and hottest months that force the decision of whether to heat or eat."
Duncan said Louisiana's 939,000 lower-income and middle-income families already spend an average of 17 percent of their after-tax income on energy.
Louisiana households with pre-tax annual incomes below $50,000 spend an estimated average of 17 percent of their after-tax income on residential and transportation energy, according to the study. For the 36 percent of households earning less than $30,000 before taxes, 23 percent of their income is spent on energy before any government assistance.
We as Louisianans, are more than willing to pay our fair share for quality service and energy, but this study seems to indicate that we are paying for others as well. This could be something that is hurting our state's economy, both long term and in the present.
With all the cuts that are going on in education and other essential services, it seems we need to take a good, long look at just what our energy costs should be.
It is important that we keep such costs in check with the rest of the country so that our state and its population is not put in an even deeper financial hole.
It is important to remember that Louisiana is a big part of the process to provide this country with energy and this should become a much larger burden on us than anyone else.
Our leaders should find ways to take advantage of our place in the process and not allow us to be punished for our efforts.
The News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, on higher ed support being vital:
A recent survey listed journalist as one of the most stressful, least desirable jobs in America. While our chosen profession may not be getting the accolades we would like, right now we'd say there are at least a couple of positions that didn't make the list but are much more challenging.
The first is member of the Louisiana Legislature. Our state senators and representatives have the unenviable task of trying to balance a budget with huge revenue shortfalls. Adding to their plight, most options to increase revenue come with more strings and handcuffs attached than even Houdini could break free from on his best day.
The second is head of a Louisiana state university. It was revealed earlier this week that officials in the LSU system are doing their homework on what it would take to seek financial exigency, or, in layman's terms, academic bankruptcy.
Let that sink in a moment. Officials at the state's flagship university and their associated campuses are to the point they have to consider that drastic a measure. Incredible.
In his column Sunday, Gov. Bobby Jindal said the administration seeks to protect higher education from severe cuts. The reality is higher education has already taken a huge hit. As state support has dropped from about 70 percent of funding to less than 30 percent, fees and tuition costs have soared. In the past 15 years, tuition costs have increased way past the rate of inflation.
We understand our representatives in Baton Rouge face a tough task. They will have to make difficult choices, and there will be screaming from all who get cut. But we also believe that education is vital to our state's future.
We can't afford to cut higher education to the point that we drive our best and brightest out of state, or prevent them from getting a college degree. We need to keep them in state and make sure they have the knowledge and skills to lead us in the future. And, hopefully, we'll get some economics majors who can help the state better manage its finances so we don't find ourselves in such a bind ever again.