Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Democratic Caucus trying to seize momentum

By Robert Travis Scott

BATON ROUGE -- Democrats in the Legislature advised Gov. Kathleen Blanco's administration Monday to resist a call for a special session if the purpose is to issue one-time rebates to insurance customers hit with special assessments for storm relief.

By inserting themselves more firmly into the debate about spending priorities for a giant budget surplus and a bailout of insurance policyholders statewide, members of the Louisiana Legislative Democratic Caucus are trying to seize momentum from Republicans who have been partially successful in setting an agenda for a special session that is now likely in January.

Their stance also appears to differ in some ways from Blanco's.

At stake in the political jockeying is hundreds of millions, and possibly billions of dollars from a widely expected surplus that could be doled out during a crash session of the Legislature before the body's next regular meeting, April 30 to June 28.

House Republican caucus chairman Jim Tucker of Algiers said the priorities for the surplus should be Citizens insurance relief, transportation projects and setting aside money for a future payment Louisiana will owe FEMA as a state match for hurricane relief. Pet projects of lawmakers should not be in the spending formula, he said.

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