State lawmakers consider ways to address flood insurance rate hikes
State lawmakers met Wednesday to see what can be done about the recent changes to the federal National Flood Insurance Program, which has led to tenfold premium increases for residents of flood-prone areas of Louisiana and other coastal states. The answer: Not much, except to keep pressure on Congress. About Louisiana 18,000 policyholders have already faced higher premiums, with some homeowners paying more than $10,000 a year for policies that previously cost a few hundred dollars. That, in turn, has caused home values drop by as much as 30 percent in some areas. As Nola.com reports, one idea came from Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, who suggested the flood insurance program to be broadened to cover catastrophes such as earthquakes and forest fires, which would bring in more policyholders and thus spread the risk.
State still seeking consultant for Medicaid processing contract
Federal health-care authorities aren’t the only ones having computer problems these days. Here in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is having a devil of a time finding a new company to process its Medicaid claims. As The Advocate reports, the administration is going back to the drawing board after rejecting the only company to submit a bid because it failed to meet the state’s requirements. The episode is only the latest setback for the administration, which originally awarded the lucrative deal to CNSI Inc., only to cancel the contract after revelations that former state health Secretary Bruce Greenstein communicated extensively with officials at the company, where he once worked.
School performance scores to be released today
Principals, teachers, and parents across the state will find out today how their schools fared compared to their peers when the Department of Education releases the annual performance scores. As Nola.com reports, state officials modified the grading scale for schools and will issue two letter grades for each school: one that reflects the school’s score under the new system, and one that reflects what the school would have scored under the old system. Elementary schools will be graded entirely on students’ performance on the iLEAP and LEAP tests. Ninety-five percent of middle schools’ scores will be based on test scores, and five percent on how many students drop out or don’t progress to the next grade level. At the high school level, 25 percent of the score will be based on ACT scores, 25 percent on end-of-course exams and 50 percent on graduation rates.
Baton Rouge producer pleads guilty in film tax credit scheme
A former Baton Rouge film producer pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving more than $970,000 for bogus film tax credits. As The Advocate reports, court records show Walker admitted to lying about his ownership of the film tax credits to Peggy Persac, a Baton Rouge certified pubic accountant and investment adviser to some of her tax clients. Walker, who now resides in Austin, Texas, conceded he sold Persac’s firm film tax credits with a combined face value of $1.45 million that he fabricated and marketed through one of his firms, The Bishop LLC. Walker is currently free on bond until sentencing. The state’s generous film tax credit program has proven very lucrative for the film industry. Despite having a low return-on-investment for Louisiana’s economy, the state approved more than $220 million in 2012.