- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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Nov. 1

The Advocate on reforming the state tax system:

A former state senator, Troy Hebert, recently suggested that two numbers ought to always be in the next governor’s mind: 53 and 20.

Those are the majorities in House and Senate, and his larger point was that the support of the Legislature is critical to anything a new governor wants to do in office.

We think that it behooves the runoff candidates for governor, who are obviously obsessed right now with turnout and poll numbers, to think about two other numbers: 70 and 26.

Because it is with 70 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate that one achieves a two-thirds majority, vital to passing new taxes and, perhaps, depending on a legal challenge to some actions of the 2015 Legislature, even ending tax breaks previously granted.

It is those two-thirds votes that are more elusive both mathematically and politically.

And if there are big numbers that ought to worry the lawmakers and the new governor, it is the massive shortfalls in the budget, both in the current year and in the new budget that must be crafted by a new administration in early 2016.

It is the problem that candidates can easily identify and decry but have been unwilling to be as specific about what they’re going to do about shortfalls of $1 billion or more.

Most of the legislators seeking re-election have been returned to office, so they are not newbies. But they and the governor’s candidates can benefit from a major report on Louisiana’s out-of-date tax system.

The Committee of 100 for Economic Development, a business group, commissioned experts from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation and drew in Louisiana experts to talk about ways to fix the tax system.

It’s a reasonable list of options for streamlining tax collection and generating money for state government in an economically responsible way. For conservatives, it has the benefit of showing how a broadened tax base in the income tax, for example, could allow a significant cut in the tax rate.

“We must recognize that there are no easy or quick fixes,” Committee of 100 Chairman Tom Clark said. “Success will require a comprehensive review and correction of the causes of our structural budget deficit problems and not simply reducing spending or increasing taxes.”

Some of the proposals might require changes in the bloated, overwritten Louisiana Constitution, where we’ve added tax breaks or basic provisions that are less flexible than in ordinary law. That means that the significant numbers are often going to be 70 and 26, because the first big hurdle to constitutional changes is a two-thirds vote of House and Senate.

Then, the new governor and lawmakers have to sell the changes to a vote of the people.

Such big changes are going to be challenging in the State Capitol. But they don’t get rolling without a credible set of options priced out for consideration. The Committee of 100 has given a solid start to real changes in the tax system.

Online: https://theadvocate.com/

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Oct. 31

The Advertiser of Lafayette on the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition:

Folks don’t attend your trade show as a favor.

They don’t attend from loyalty to your organization.

They don’t come for want of something to do - not in Acadiana; there are plenty of pleasurable distractions here.

But 16,400 people attended the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition from Tuesday through Thursday at the Cajundome because the biennial show delivered quality to those who made the trip. It was worth their time and toil to get here.

Attendees hailed from 46 countries and 49 states; they included 448 vendors promoting products and services to oil and energy industry professionals. They included presenters at technical and international presentations. They included keynote speakers and job coaches. They included professionals seeking to connect with colleagues and customers.

They did business, honed strategies and courted business partners. They taught and they learned.

LAGCOE Director Angela Cring said two years of planning produced three days of exposition that seemed to satisfy the attendees. One company representative said the show paid off for the investment in the first hour of the first day.

Robust attendance surprised even Cring. After all, the oil and gas industry is pushing its way through global turmoil in prices. It’s experiencing retractions, mergers, layoffs and closures. Budgets have been slashed as companies struggle to survive.

But Cring said those charged with boosting attendance did an excellent job in promoting the show to companies and professionals along the coast, including corporate attendees from Houston. Regional digital promotions worked. LAGCOE 2015 attendance was the exposition’s second-highest.

LAGCOE ‘15 Chairman Steve Maley said exhibit quality was high, although many exhibitors attended the show for the first time. International presenters - including Saudi Arabia and Mexico - were enthusiastic and straight shooting. They want to do business with Gulf Coast companies and their presentations made that clear.

Show over show, the number of vendors rose from 416 two years ago. That’s because some companies, cutting expenses, opted for smaller booth spaces, opening additional space for newcomers. Cring said about a hundred exhibitors were making their first appearance at the show. That meant new people, new products. Vendors said the quality of business leads was excellent.

Maley noted that presentations were packed. Addresses by Gary Luquette of Frank’s International and Doug Lawler of Chesapeake filled the seats and left scores of people standing. Those presentations should be available on the LAGCOE website next week. If you missed them live, catch the You Tube replays.

LAGCOE 2015 was about the future, not the troubled present. Maley said surviving and profiting will demand skilled workers, innovative ideas, smart strategies. LAGCOE ‘15 delivered for attendees, who must change or vanish, in all of those areas.

It earned the enthusiasm reflected by organizers and attendees. Well done.

Online: https://www.theadvertiser.com/

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Oct. 30

The Courier of Houma on hurricane season:

We are in the home stretch.

Another hurricane season is nearly complete, and once again, we have been spared the worst Mother Nature can bring.

We have been blessed in recent years with incredible fortune. Not only have there been fewer hurricanes recently, but those that did form avoided our area of the Gulf Coast.

Just like financial firms disclaim, though, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In fact, while our luck has certainly been good, there is good reason to worry that our string of fortune could itself pose a danger.

Everyone here is happy that we haven’t had to shutter our windows, stockpile water and batteries or evacuate. But we also much worry that with such a lull in storm activity, many of our friends and neighbors could get a false sense of security.

Even now, with the end of storm season in sight, we cannot let down our guard.

While late-season storms are rare, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, they are possible.

“This is the time of year you don’t want to let your guard down,” AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said this week in a Bloomberg News story.

We have to think in terms of the next storm, not in terms of how long it has been since the last one.

We are unable to do anything about the past, but we can always better prepare for the future. That, after all, is our best defense.

We can’t rely on every storm petering out before it gets here or staying out of the Gulf altogether.

We have to remain vigilant and assume that the next storm could be on the horizon.

That seem pessimistic, but it is actually realistic and our most prudent approach.

Even as we make our storm preparations each year, we hope they go unneeded. At the same time, though, seasoned residents of the Gulf Coast know it is better to have unneeded plans than to lack plans when they are needed.

The past has shown us too many times that even relatively minor storm or just sustained winds can cause flooding and all the disruption that comes along with it.

Storm season is no time to forget those painful lessons.

We can hope for continued good luck, but we can’t afford to depend on it. We have to depend on our experience - gained over years and decades - and our preparations.

We can rejoice that our good luck appears to be holding. As we do, though, we should keep an eye trained on the weather maps to make sure this is another good year.

Online: https://www.houmatoday.com/

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