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Quarterman's triple double leads LSU to 3rd straight victory

LSU continued its push to get in the NCAA Tournament as the Tigers defeated Ole Miss 73-63 on Saturday afternoon to improve to 10-6 in the SEC, 21-8 overall.
Tim Quarterman registered the first triple-double in LSU history since Shaquille O" Neal did in 1992. Quarterman had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Jarell Martin also had 18 points and added 12 rebounds. Keith Hornsby added 16 points and added four 3-pointers.  
LSU also played some outstanding defense, as they held to Rebels 38% shooting. One of the top scorers in the SEC, Stefan Moody of Ole Miss was just 3-of-16 from the field.
The Tigers will close out the home portion of their schedule when they host Tennessee on Wednesday.  

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Lawmakers react to Jindal's budget proposal

The Jindal administration has said they are willing to scale back 526-million dollars in tax credits for businesses, but Chairman of the republican house delegation, state Representative Lance Harris of Alexandria is disappointed the governor didn’t suggest reeling back some of the film tax credits.
"In the movie tax credit we pay 30% of there expenses to come make up a movie in Louisiana, 30% and then we offer that as a tax credit to someone else," Harris said. 
As a way to help reduce cuts to higher education, The Jindal administration proposes higher fees to attend public college, but provide a tax credit to offset those costs, which would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax. But Harris doesn’t like the idea of a cigarette tax. 
"I do not support any tax that's drilled down to the individual, because I think individuals pay enough taxes as it is now."
The governor has highlighted 12 tax credits that could become non-refundable which would give the state more money to spend. But the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Amite representative John Bel Edwards, says legislators should look beyond those tax credits as a way to raise revenue.
"I'm talking about the giveaways, the loopholes, then the governor put on the table in order to do a comprehensive job," Edwards said.
Edwards says he’s not a fan of Jindal’s proposal to raise cigarette taxes and have that money pay for a tax credit for those individuals who pay higher fees at colleges. 
"Why do we have to do a fee and a tax credit and that's because Governor Jindal is jumping through hoops in order to satisfy Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform," Edwards said. 
Norquist is the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform.  

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Proposed bill would protect against penalties for Common Core opt-outs

In two weeks, students will begin Common Core testing and a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that will prohibit penalties if a student decided to opt out of the testing.  Abbeville Representative Bob Hensgens' bill would protect students, schools, and school systems from non-participation penalties.  

He says there is no law that levies penalties for not taking the tests, but that's not what he's hearing from school districts.
"We're getting school districts telling their parents, 'We're not going to let this child go into honors course next year.' or "We're going to make the test a grade for regular school.'  And that's not what it's intended to do."

Currently students who opt-out of the testing will be given a score of zero, which will be transferred to the performance score of schools and school districts.  Hensgens says the decision for a student to take these tests belong to the parent and not the government.

"If the parents say I don't want my child taking this test, which does nothing for their academic career, then they shouldn't have to.  And they shouldn't be bullied into taking it by saying they won't get into honors classes in the future."

Education Superintendent John White says they will address opt-outs when they see how many students actually opt-out of the exams.  Hensgens says it shouldn't be left up to White to determine if penalties should be levied if someone decides not to take the Common Core tests.

"We're not going to leave it up to one guy to decide maybe later, if he so decides, that it won't hurt or it will hurt.  He's not going to be the guy who's the arbiter of the punishment or not punishment, in my book.  The whole state's going to decide this." 

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Jindal administration proposes solutions to budget problems

The Jindal administration presented a proposed budget today that provides a starting point on how to prevent drastic cuts to health care and higher education, despite a one-point-six billion revenue shortfalll for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says they want lawmakers to scale back a dozen refundable tax credits which would save the state 526-million dollars.

"This does not increase the current tax obligation of any Louisiana taxpayer and Louisiana will continue to promote economic growth through tax incentives and exemptions, however we can not pay more than we take in," Nichols said. 
Even with a cap on certain tax credits, the cut in the proposed budget to higher ed is 211-million dollars. Nichols offered solutions to further reduce cuts to higher education and one includes raising the cigarette tax and using those revenues to provide families with a tax credit to help offset the costs for higher fees at public colleges. 
"The cigarette tax itself, if we move to the Southern average could generate about 100-million dollars," Nichols said. 
The potential drop in funding for health care sevices is 235-million dollars according to the proposed budget. Lawmakers who serve on the budget committees seemed to like some of the ideas and Delhi Senator Franics Thompson is glad the cuts to higher ed and health care are not as bad as once feared. 
"I'm please we have temporary fix to the problems that we have," Thompson said. 
Lawmakers will now spend the next several weeks going over the budget and will eventually approve a spending plan in June. 

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