Another Republican governor pushes for Medicaid expansion
As an estimated 400,000 low-income Louisianans continue to languish without health-care coverage, the Republican governor of Ohio did an end-run around his state’s Legislature by pushing through an expansion of Medicaid. The move by Gov. John Kasich means Ohio, a critical swing state in presidential elections, is now the 25th state plus the District of Columbia to expand Medicaid. A former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich described his decision as a way to help recruit business to the buckeye state. As The New York Times reports: Mr. Kasich, who has championed job creation as he prepares for a re-election campaign next year in his swing state, has argued that expanding Medicaid eligibility will be an economic booster shot, because companies will be lured to Ohio by a healthier work force. [The] expansion is supported by state hospitals, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
School voucher enrollment increases, despite federal lawsuit
Student participation in Louisiana’s private school voucher program grew by 37 percent in its second year, increasing to 6,775 students from 4,994. The number of schools participating the program also increased to 127 from 120. The increased enrollment is projected to cost taxpayers $36 million this year, or about $5,300 per child. The increased participating comes despite legal and fiscal uncertainty. The state Supreme Court ruled in May that the vouchers could not be funded with money reserved for public schools, forcing Gov. Bobby Jindal to request a separate $40 million-plus line item from the Legislature. The program now faces a federal Justice Department suit that would require Louisiana to seek judicial permission before assigning vouchers to students in parishes under school desegregation orders. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Nov. 7.
The case for community and technical colleges
Louisiana ranks third in the nation for the number of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs that are available to those without a bachelor’s degree, but many of those jobs are not currently filled. Other industries in Louisiana face the same problem – a desire to grow that is stifled by an unqualified workforce. Former Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Leslie Jacobs, who is now vice chair of the New Orleans Business Alliance and founder of Educate Now!, writes that Louisiana high schools must focus not only college preparation but also career and technical readiness: We need all of our high schools to understand the career options offered by two-year degrees and provide more nuanced college counseling. Enrolling in a four-year college is not the right option for all students.
Tulane legislative scholarship forms aren’t public records
Leaders of the state House and Senate have refused to turn over hundreds of application forms for Tulane University’s legislative scholarships – a program that lets each of Louisiana’s lawmakers give one student a one-year scholarship worth $43,150 annually to the state’s most prestigious private university. The public records requests came following accusations that state lawmakers are simply giving the awards to relatives of fellow politicians. As The Advocate reports, all students who receive legislative scholarships are required to disclose on their application forms whether they are related to an elected official. A similar arrangement allows the mayor of New Orleans to grant five four-year scholarship awards each year.