News for Monday 012714
By Dave Graichen
The southern half of Louisiana, including Alexandria, is under a winter storm watch as there's a good chance we'll see snow and ice, starting tonight in southwest Louisiana. Fred Zeigler, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says we could see between one and two inches of snow north of Interstate 10, and freezing rain along the coast.
Louisiana's 2014 U-S Senate race is now considered a 'toss-up.' Larry Sabato with the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia changed his rating from a slight lean in favor of democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu to a toss-up. Sabato says Landrieu should be worried if a run-off is needed to decide the race, because democrats could have trouble getting their voters to the polls for a run-off election. Three republicans are actively campaigning against Landrieu. Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy, state representative Paul Hollis and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. Cassidy remains Landrieu's biggest challenger.
Tax season kicks off January 31st and the Internal Revenue Service is getting the word out about a no cost option for most Louisianans to prepare their taxes. It's called "Free File" and it's available
for free for individuals and families making 58 thousand or less a year I-R-S spokesperson Dee Harris Stepter says, You can get the 'Free File' software at the I-R-S dot gov website. Despite the many ways you can file your tax returns, Stepter says the 'Free File" software is a big help at absolutely cost. The I-R-S says 70 percent of Americans are eligible to use the "Free File" software.
The long-awaited corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin begins today in federal court. Among the charges, prosecutors argue Nagin was given over $100,000 in kickbacks in exchange for multi-million dollar city construction contracts. Nagin got national attention during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a rebuilding effort spurred by billions of federal dollars.
Nagin is the first mayor in the history of New Orleans to be indicted and face a federal corruption trial.
The Jindal administration presented lawmakers Friday with a 25-billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that starts July first. The governor's chief financial administrator, Kristy Nichols, says it's a
responsible and balanced spending plan that doesn't raise taxes or use one-time dollars on recurring expenses. The governor's proposed budget calls for increased funding to pay for TOPS Scholarships and there's new dollars to pay for workforce development programs that will be utilized by colleges and universities. Nichols says the budget also includes money to train another State Police cadet class. It does call for the elimination of more than one- thousand jobs in state government, most of them are vacant, but Nichols says the spending proposal contains pay raises for thousands state employees.
According to the Jindal administration, In just a few weeks’ time, a New York global management firm has found more than $4 million in savings for state government. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told legislators Friday, “The contract itself has paid for itself”. The Jindal administration added the savings recommendations into its proposed $25 billion state spending plan for the fiscal year that starts this summer. The ideas all focus on health care and include a new rate for some patients staying in hospitals on the state’s dime, the elimination of a claims processing step and a crackdown on high-cost medication.
The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office identified the man whose body was found Saturday afternoon in a sugar-cane field near Rosedale. The body of 42 year old Avery Hastings Corpus Christi was found Saturday by a group of all-terrain vehicle riders. Hastings is believed to be the victim of a violent incident that happened about a week ago in West Baton Rouge Parish, however authorities have not released any details.