5) Deadline for Housing Funds
City Hall faces a deadline this week by which it must spend federal funds for subsidized housing projects or risk losing the money. The money is part of federal HOME funds allocated since 1992 to the city, which then gives it to nonprofits to build housing for the needy. The city has had trouble spending all of the money it is allocated, however, and media reports have indicated the city could lose $11 million of that funding if it is not put to use by Friday, May 1.
4) City Schools Begin Cutbacks
The Orleans Parish School Board plans to enact a hiring freeze and begin other financial cutbacks starting April 30. The board faces a $13 million budget deficit due in part to long-term debt and other obligations left over from the much larger school district it ran before Hurricane Katrina. The hiring freeze affects administrative, clerical and executive-level employees of the school district, but not teachers or principals. The board also expects to make layoffs later in the year as it attempts to balance its budget.
3) Jazz Fest Rolls On
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival continues through its second weekend, an event expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Fair Grounds Race Course between Thursday, April 30, and Sunday, May 3. As usual, the week leading up the Jazz Fest days will feature much more music than usual at venues across town to tap the interest of the huge numbers of people expected to visit the city. In addition, the Wednesday at the Square free concert series held in Lafayette Square continues this week with featured headliner Marcia Ball. For information on the free concerts, go to www.wednesdayatthesquare.com. Complete Jazz Fest information is available at www.nojazzfest.com.
2) U.S. Attorney Decision Looms
Political journalist John Maginnis has predicted that U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu may announce this week her recommendation for the U.S. Attorney for Louisiana’s Eastern District. Jim Letten, a Republican, holds that post and speculation has been rampant about what recommendation Landrieu will make to her fellow Democrat, President Obama. Such positions typically do change hands when a different political party takes office in Washington. Landrieu said she supported Letten not long after Obama’s election but later said she wanted to consider other contenders as well.
1) Let the Legislating Begin
Louisiana’s regular legislative session begins today, April 27, and this year the state’s lawmakers have plenty to chew over. Gov. Bobby Jindal earlier proposed a $26.7 billion state budget for the next fiscal year, which includes substantial funding cuts to health care services and public colleges. The proposal for 2009-10 cuts about 10 percent from the state’s current budget while the state faces an estimated $1.3 billion revenue drop this year. Bills proposed by local legislators run the gamut from increasing access to government files to banning smoking in more public places to requiring another ballot measure on the master plan now taking shape for New Orleans.