Tax amnesty program reaches revenue goal, helping state avoid Medicaid cuts
Defying predictions by some hopeless cynics, Louisiana’s tax amnesty program raised enough money to keep the state budget in balance and avoid cuts to the Medicaid program for the poor, elderly and disabled. Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said the amnesty program reached its $200 million goal on Monday. Money from delinquent taxpayers will be plugged into the health care budget, where it will be used to draw down an additional $340 million in federal matching dollars. The final haul won’t be known for another week as applications continue to be processed. It’s unclear what will happen to any dollars that come in above the $200 million threshold. Gov. Bobby Jindal has expressed interest in using the money for higher education and health care. But some legislators want the money to be set aside in case any budget shortfalls arise halfway through the fiscal year.
DHH to make changes for home-based care waiting list
The Jindal administration announced Friday that it would make changes to a years-long waiting list for home-based care for Louisianans with disabilities. As The Advocate reporter Michelle Millhollon summarizes: The changes include a website to track the waiting list and increased efforts to purge people with developmental disabilities who no longer need state government’s help with their care. The state plans to create a cleaner list by syncing with vital records to remove deceased individuals and identifying people who moved out of state or into group homes. … The changes stem from a series of meetings the Jindal administration held with the disabled community after Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed millions of dollars that families requested to whittle down the waiting list earlier this year.
The untold story of restaurant workers in America
The federal minimum wage for tipped workers – mainly waiters and waitresses – has been frozen at $2.13 for the past 21 years. Since Louisiana does not maintain its own minimum wage law, many tipped workers who are employed in this state’s booming service, hospitality and tourism industries receive these “sub-minimum wages.” A new infographic published on Upworthy shows what it actually means to be a restaurant worker earning $2.13 per hour. For example, tipped workers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce and experience three times the poverty rate of the rest of the workforce. More than 10 million workers across the nation are restaurant workers, and two-thirds of these are women.
State auditor report finds vendors overcharge food aid program recipients
The state Department of Health and Hospitals did a poor job overseeing vendors in a federally funded program that provides food aid for low-income women and children. That was the conclusion from a new report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, which found that vendors may have overcharged the program a total of $655,000. Some food vendors placed expired food on their shelves, while the health department did not adequately identify “high risk” vendors and report disqualified vendors to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as rules require. More than 700 vendors — ranging from mom-and-pop groceries to Wal-Marts — are authorized to participate in the food assistance program in Louisiana.
Upcoming LBP Events
LBP and PolicyLink are hosting a Twitter chat on “Protecting Your Paycheck: The Pitfalls of Payday Lending” 1 p.m. Dec. 12 using the hashtag #protecturpay.