Why Is Paula Davis Trying To Give Free College Tuition To Violent Criminals?

There is a bill, strangely supported by LABI (we’ll explain why in a moment), moving in the Louisiana Senate which would expand a current college scholarship program into the prisons. It’s being brought by one of the more prodigious “moderates” in the House of Representatives, Baton Rouge Republican Paula Davis.

Davis, you might remember, was one of the key authors of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ massive tax increases eight years ago, a fiscal-incontinence bacchanal which led to a doubling of Louisiana’s budget while net outmigration grew to such frightening levels that on a per-capita basis Louisiana was losing its citizens at a pace rivaling that of California or New York.

No Republican should want their legislative legacy to be that of growing government amid a shrinking population, and that’s Davis’ legacy. So naturally she’s attempting to paper hers over with new items.

So we get HB 728.

This is a piece of legislation in a similar vein to the criminal justice “reforms” passed during Edwards’ time in office, in which Louisiana’s incarceration rate dropped and “nonviolent” felons were let out of the prisons. Advocates of those reforms swear they had nothing to do with the state’s skyrocketing crime rate in the years since; we aren’t going to pass judgment on that controversy.

But clearly they’re out of vogue.

Davis managed to pass HB 728 out of the House almost unanimously nonetheless, without a whole lot of discussion. The state has something called the M.J. Foster Promise Program, which is a scholarship program paying tuition at vo-tech schools and community colleges for qualifying recipients, and it’s what’s at issue here.

Davis’ bill would lower the age to take part in the program from 21 down to 17 and it would expand its availability into the prisons.

LABI got behind the bill, in one of their lesser moments, because LABI has a long-standing priority for workforce development and for the past decade or more that has included the idea that the state’s inmate population ought to be mined as a source of talent for skilled labor.

Which isn’t an altogether implausible idea. But the problem is allocation of resources. Are you really better off throwing taxpayer dollars at crooks trying to develop them as welders, electricians and machinists rather than training high school kids for those kinds of jobs? There’s a consideration here that nobody seems to want to understand – which is that when you combine negative morality with skills and education, you’re increasing the deleterious effect of that negative morality.

Is it a good thing if the Iranians get nukes? Obviously not. So why would you want to spend taxpayer dollars giving armed robbers, rapists and other violent criminals high-end skills they can weaponize against the public in all kinds of creative and unforeseen ways?

Or even if you aren’t persuaded by that argument, ask yourself this: when we’re trying to prepare the ground for sizable tax cuts, like for example Davis’ huge sales and business tax hikes rolling off the books next year, plus an elimination or phase-out of the state’s income tax, do you really want to spend $10 million more out of a shrinking budget to send ex-cons to junior college?

It just wouldn’t seem like a high priority item.

But nobody really paid any attention to this until the bill made it into the Senate Education Committee, and that’s when Sen. Blake Miguez said “whoa!” Miguez pointed out that maybe it would be a good idea to take violent felons out of the mix of Foster Promise Program beneficiaries.

And he won that argument.

The bill is still rattling around in the Senate, and it’s now a pet project of the Soros-funded Louisiana Illuminator, a publication which serves the desires of out-of-state leftist donors rather than an audience of any size in Louisiana. The Illuminator’s Greg LaRose thought he would attack Miguez for having brought the amendment to ban convicted rapists and other dangerous criminals from getting free tuition. Here’s how that went…


Stringent anti-crime laws the Louisiana Legislature approved in a February special session will put more people in prison and keep them there longer.

But that’s apparently not tough enough on crime for Sen. Blake Miguez, who is intent on placing not just his thumb but an entire fist on the scales of justice. The Republican from New Iberia, best known for his sharpshooting prowess, is taking the fish-in-a-barrel approach with his amendment to a GOP-backed bill that otherwise would be progressive.

At the mid-April hearing, Miguez mentioned a ban on “rapists, murderers, child molestors and terrorists” specifically, but he failed to note other crimes of violence that would cause someone to be excluded from the program. Such offenses include purse snatching, simple robbery and simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling.

Remember, all these offenders still have to serve time and pay any fines and restitution that are part of their sentences, regardless of whether they have any post-prison career aspirations. Miguez’s amendment crushes any such opportunity for these ex-offenders before they can even take their first steps back into society. It continues to punish them even after they meet their obligations to the criminal justice system.

The added punitive measure also confirms the dwindling rehabilitative capacity of Louisiana’s correctional system. Miguez’s move sends the message to violent offenders that not only does the state believe they are beyond help, but that the Legislature will take the extra step to ensure they will never be productive citizens. In doing so, lawmakers also increase the likelihood ex-offenders must rely on the government for some form of sustenance or, worse yet, become repeat offenders.

LaRose whines that LABI didn’t object to Miguez’ amendment, which is pretty funny – if you’re LABI, do you really want to alienate the conservative Republicans who are your allies on most of your economic agenda over whether to fund vo-tech school tuition for carjackers? – and screeches that the Senate Finance Committee had better strip out Miguez’ “Draconian” amendment at its next hearing, at which HB 728 is supposed to be heard.

What’s worst about this screed, of course, is the idea that it’s a “punitive measure” to deny free stuff to criminals. No, Greg, that isn’t punitive. You don’t have a right to free stuff from the state. That’s a privilege, and when your bad actions have already forced the taxpayers of Louisiana to spend upwards of $20,000 per year to feed, clothe, and house you in our prison system, not to mention the cost of giving you a trial, this is a demand to throw even more good money after bad when we know that recidivism rates among our criminal class are already sky-high.

A punitive measure would be to deny admission to these people at our vo-tech and community colleges. Nobody is suggesting that. Those institutions are built to have very low-cost enrollments, so it’s not particularly onerous for these guys to pay their own way there.

Miguez didn’t even rail against the bill itself. He’s just trying to strip out its worst excesses, and most of his colleagues agree.

We keep saying that it’s the Democrats and the Left who are the extremists around here. They mask that by screaming at people like Miguez when they stand against all the free stuff and the cultural degradation and the punishment of achievement.

And when out-of-state leftist money bankrolls their media organs like the Advocate and Illuminator, they’re emboldened to push those narratives.

You aren’t required to believe anything they say. And you’re entitled to ask the reverse question to LaRose’s screechings, which is why “moderate” Paula Davis wants to spend your money on sending rapists to junior college.



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