LA: New Tax Cuts

BATON ROUGE — This much is clear: An income tax cut is on the way.

But how soon most Louisianians will see a change in their paycheck has become increasingly muddled, raising questions about whether Gov. Bobby Jindal may have oversold the tax-cut compromise he announced last week.

While all sides agree that the rollback of the Stelly plan tax increase should kick in Jan. 1, the real effective date for most taxpayers depends on when payroll withholding tables are adjusted by the state Department of Revenue. And exactly when that change should occur remains an open question as the House prepares to take up Senate Bill 87 by Sen. B.L. “Buddy” Shaw, R-Shreveport, which seeks to repeal income tax increases that voters approved in 2002.

Although Jindal left the clear impression that taxpayers would notice a change in January, an amendment to the bill proposed by House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, a top administration ally, would direct the Revenue Department to postpone changing its withholding tables until July 1, 2009.

Whichever date is chosen not only could affect worker paychecks, but also have a serious impact on next year’s budget.

If withholding tables are changed by Jan. 1, Shaw’s bill would drain $62 million from the treasury next year, according to a Legislative Fiscal Office estimate. But leaving the tables unchanged until July means the bill will have no effect on the 2008-09 operating budget, according to the fiscal office, as the vast majority of taxpayers would not change their tax withholdings on their own.

A typical Republican ploy–a tax cut–in a time the state revenue is down and funds cannot be found to continue some programs–a tax cut is not the best idea–but it is a Repub idea that hoodwinks the people into a false sense of security.

AL: Sharing Nude Photos

This is a very scary thing and hopefully the authorities will find the culprit and soon.

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office has joined an investigation into the distribution by cellular telephone of photos of a nude middle school student, authorities said.

It is the fourth time this year that Baldwin County authorities have investigated incidents of nude photos being shared by youths over cell phones.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Mack said today that the Spanish Fort Police Department initiated the investigation several days ago because it involves Spanish Fort Middle School students.

He said a student at the middle school snapped the photo and the girl in the photo is a student there.

Mack said investigators are taking the incident seriously. Anyone caught with nude images of children on their cell phone could be charged with distributing or receiving child pornography, he said.

“It could be hundreds of people involved,” the sheriff said. “Once something like this hits the airways, it could be an endless task finding them.

FL: School Closings

If you support “No Child Left Behind”, then this story is just right for your mentality.  It is a by-product of that god awful Bush program.

OAS_AD(‘ArticleFlex_1’)Teachers and parents alike pleaded with Superintendent Jim Paul and members of the School Board to “not give up” on the school that earned an “F” score last year after the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test

It was standing room only for some of those who attended the meeting at the J.E. Hall Center on Texar Drive that seats about 230 people. Roughly half those who showed up did so over concerns over Paul’s suggestion to consider closing the last remaining school in the small town on the Florida-Alabama border.

Paul and his staff have expressed frustration at failed attempts to improve the grades at the school that draws from one of the area’s most impoverished populations.

If the school’s closing is approved, elementary students will likely be bused 10.8 miles to Bratt Elementary School. Middle school students would be sent to Ernest Ward Middle School, 17.4 miles from Carver-Century K-8.

The Rev. Irvin Stallworth of New Life Baptist Church said residents want to “be part of the solution” and are putting together a blue-ribbon committee seeking ways to improve the school.

Paul said some Century residents have discussed converting the school to a charter school but that the time to file necessary paperwork for the next school year has already passed.

Will the school be saved or will it become just another stat in the Bush chronicles?

MS: Special Legislative Session

On Tuesday, Barbour added an immigration measure that requires employers to use an electronic government database to determine employees’ citizenship. Barbour signed the bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, during the regular session, but believes it needs tweaking because the federal government acknowledged the database has flaws.

Other items on the agenda:

A measure that requires voters to show ID. Similar measures have died for many years.

Pay raises of 15 percent for judges, 10 percent for district attorneys and assistant district attorneys.

Giving South Mississippi utility authorities created after Hurricane Katrina “immediate possession powers” to speed up rights of way purchases for a $640 million water and sewer project that has moved slowly.

Changes to the toll road laws to make collecting tolls easier.

Reauthorization of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. While fighting over MDES’ advertising practices, lawmakers ended the regular session without reauthorizing it.

House Bill 1136, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem J.P. Compretta, D-Bay St. Louis, which regulates the trade of copper and other metals in hopes of curbing rampant theft. Barbour vetoed the bill after the regular session.

As usual Mississippi will go into a special session to cover important bills that did not make it in the regular session.  The problem is that these bills are not the most important, but they are to the governor and there is where the deal is at.