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State fiscal situation is an embarrassment

The governor's fiscal year 2019 budget should be taken as a very serious warning of what can happen to vital state investments in health care, education and social services if the political deadlock in Baton Rouge is not broken.

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Medicaid Work Requirements Don’t Work

While the idea of a work requirement may sound good to some, the reality is that it would take away health coverage, create more red tape and make it harder for many people who want to work to find employment.

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Louisiana families continue to struggle

The poverty rate in Louisiana for adults and children remained unacceptably high in 2016 even as other states saw significant improvements. New U.S. Census data released Thursday also show that Louisiana continues to have one of the highest rates of income inequality in the United States.

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The Daily Dime

One of the few bills that advanced out of committee this week is a dangerous proposal from House Speaker Taylor Barras to change the formula that governs the state spending cap.

Number of the Day

$40 million - amount of additional state funding requested by two education advisory groups this week, the equivalent of 1 percent of the state’s current allocation to public schools. (Source: The Advocate)

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Our Two Cents Blog

Under the guise of “budget reform,” House Republican leaders have made three demands of Gov. John Bel Edwards as a condition of agreeing to replace some of the revenue from temporary taxes that expire on July 1. Most of the attention thus far has focused on the first two – a new website that would track government spending by state and local governments, and a proposed work requirement and out-of-pocket costs for some Medicaid recipients.

But it’s the third demand from House Speaker Taylor Barras that poses the greatest danger to Louisiana’s ability to pay for critical needs in health care, education, public safety and transportation in future years.

Barras is proposing to change the state cap on spending to make it far more restrictive than the current cap. If these changes are added to the state constitution, it could force lawmakers to make hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary cuts to services unless they can muster a two-thirds vote to override the cap.

Had the revised cap been in effect in for the 2016-17 budget cycle, the Legislature would have been forced to cut $567 million from that year’s budget unless it could muster a two-thirds vote. For  perspective, that’s more than the combined total general fund dollars spent that year on TOPS ($149 million), mental health ($109 million), juvenile justice services ($120 million) and sheriff’s housing of adult offenders ($123 million). Read more

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