New Jindal position consistent with Norquist's tax pledge, group says
Gov. Bobby Jindal's current position on reviewing the state's tax credits, rebates and exemptions is consistent with his pledge to never support tax increases, says John Kartch, spokesman with Americans for Tax Reform. ATR is headed by Republican power broker Grover Norquist. The organization is best known for the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, by which "candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases." In the past, Jindal has opposed eliminating any tax breaks that were not already scheduled to sunset, on the theory that doing so is the same thing as raising taxes, and raising taxes is unacceptable. However, now that the Legislature will review the state's tax expenditures, Jindal has changed his position. He now says it makes sense "to identify changes that would make the tax structure fairer, flatter and lower for Louisiana families and businesses," according to a statement from LED Secretary Stephen Moret, but "any changes that are made must be budget neutral and not an attempt to just raise revenue." The position puts Jindal at odds with some legislators, for whom the primary purpose of the review is to raise more revenue. Norquist recently co-authored a column in Politico suggesting Mitt Romney would do well to pick Jindal as his running mate; read that column here. —David Jacobs
Today's poll question: Do you consider the elimination of a tax credit, rebate or exemption to be a tax increase?
State readies industrial site for development in Port Allen
A 204-acre "development ready" site in Port Allen is slated for certification under the Louisiana Economic Development's Certified Sites Program. LED officials say the site—known simply as "All Star" for its ownership affiliated with the All Star Automotive Group—is located north of Interstate 10 on Court Street, about midway between La. 415 and La. 1. The site is one of three LED certified sites in the Capital Region, including a 60-acre site at the Donaldsonville Industrial Park and a 44-acre site at the Pointe Coupee Port and Industrial Park. LED says the All Star site certification is pending a third-party review by an engineering firm. For a site to be certified, LED goes through the due diligence of conducting surveys for cultural artifacts, sensitive wetlands, endangered species, soil compaction and historical factors. Each site also is ensured to have adequate infrastructure for utilities commonly needed for industrial use. After certification, LED says potential developers can begin building on a site within 180 days. Across Louisiana, LED has certified 21 sites via its program, with six pending and 43 slated for continued work. Certification saves developers time and money to build on a site, LED says. For a recent Business Report story on certified development-ready sites, click here. —Adam Pearson
'225 Dine': The sweet life
For the past three years, Latte e Miele has wooed Baton Rougeans with its uniquely flavored, impeccably textured Italian gelato—no small feat in a region built on unrestrained goodies like pralines and bread pudding. Co-owner Luca DiMartino makes his base from scratch, a rarity among American gelaterias, and he is intent on pursuing as many regional ingredients as possible. The number of flavors has tripled since Latte e Miele opened on Highland Road, in part because gelato converts keep filing in to see what's new and seasonal. The gelato shop is now poised to expand to a new location in Bocage, on Jefferson Highway, with additional food and drink offerings this summer. DiMartino says his intention is to make people of all ages and stripes feel comfortable at Latte e Miele. "I hate to say 'Third Place,' because it's so overused," he says about the label placed on coffeehouses and community gathering places. "But that's exactly what we've tried to do—to create a place that is inviting to everyone. Kids and families, couples, singles. Whoever you are, there's a place for you here." The new location is on schedule to open sometime this month. —Maggie Heyn Richardson Access the rest of this story, see a video of DiMartino talking about how Latte e Miele keeps coming up new flavors and check out this week's complete 225 Dine e-newsletter here.
Unemployment stuck at 8.2% on gain of 80,000 jobs in June
The 80,000 jobs U.S. employers added in June wasn't good enough to chisel away at the 8.2% unemployment rate, and marked the third straight month of weak hiring figures—an indication the economy continues to struggle three years after the recession ended. According to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report out this morning, the economy has added an average of just 75,000 jobs per month in the April-June quarter. That's one-third of 226,000 a month created in the first quarter. Job creation is also trailing last year's pace through the first six months of 2012. The dismal June job figures could prompt the Federal Reserve to take further action to try to boost the economy. The Fed last month downgraded its economic outlook for 2012. It predicted growth of just 1.9% to 2.4% for the year, and little change in the unemployment rate. Job gains in April and May were little changed from the department's previous estimates. And yet, there were some good signs in the report. The average work week grew to 34.5 hours, from 34.4 in May, boosting many workers' paychecks. And average hourly wages rose 6 cents to $23.50. The Associated Press has more figures from the report in the full story here.
U.S. hits record exports of diesel, other distillate fuels
American distillate fuel exports hit a record high in April, as production grew and imports fell to the lowest in 27 years, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In April, the United States shipped a net 981,000 barrels of distillate fuels per day—primarily diesel and heating oil. For comparison, The Houston Chronicle reports that's nearly as much gasoline as the U.S. uses every three hours. The country began transforming from a net importer of distillates to a net exporter in 2008, as fossil fuel production started to surge and the domestic energy needs slowed amid the economic recession. The nation's gross daily distillate fuel exports were up 29% during the first four months of the year, compared to the same period in 2011. Meanwhile, imports fell 42%. April marked the lowest import volumes since 1985. Global demand for distillate fuels, meanwhile, has grown as developing economies have expanded in recent years, according to the International Energy Agency. Mexico and South America have been the United States' biggest customers, attracting 60% of its distillate exports. Refineries in those regions haven't kept up with robust demand growth.
College presidents enjoy big rewards, but less job security
Helicopter parents, impatient trustees, overworked professors, entitled athletics boosters and deeply partisan lawmakers with little cash to spare. It's enough to make people wonder why anyone would want the job of college president. Sure, the pay is pretty good—OK, it's typically really, really good—and the perks sizable, from free housing and a company car to travel budgets. But when it comes to running the 21st century American university, the men and women in the president's office are increasingly on high alert that their stays at the top could prove short. Look no further than the University of Virginia, where the sudden ouster and subsequent rehiring of President Teresa Sullivan has made national headlines. Or, look to state flagship universities in Illinois, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, where presidents resigned or were forced out in the past year after relatively brief stints in charge. Or look no further than your own back yard, where LSU is dealing with the departure of several high profile administrators in recent months—including the ouster of system president John Lombardi in April, and flagship chancellor Mike Martin's announcement in May that he'll be headed to Colorado State University to preside over its system in August. The Associated Press has the full feature here.
News roundup: Study: Deadline to apply for Kean Miller Connection is Monday … U.N. affirms Internet freedom is a basic right … Study: office dogs reduce work-related stress
Get with the program: College students interested in participating in Kean Miller Connection, a two-day law school preparatory program hosted by the law firm in Baton Rouge on July 19 and 20, have until 5 p.m. Monday to submit applications. There is no cost for the program, but participants must be accepted via the application process. Eligibility requirements include a 3.0 minimum GPA, at least 45 college credits and Louisiana residency, as well as being a minority or female. Applications can be found here, and you can also check out a video about the program here.
Express yourself: In a landmark move that is reigniting debate about the role governments should play in regulating Internet use by their citizens, the United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday OK'd a resolution supporting freedom of expression on the Internet. Even China, which filters online content through a firewall, backed the resolution. It affirmed that "the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one's choice." The New York Times has the full story here.
It's a doggy-dog world: A recent study from the Virginia Commonwealth University says that employees who bring their dogs to work experience lower stress levels throughout the work day, report higher levels of job satisfaction and have a more positive perception of their employer. The study was conducted over the span of a week at Replacements, a dinnerware manufacturing company in Greensboro, North Carolina. The most stressed group of workers turned out to be dog owners that left their pets at home. Inc. magazine has the full story here.