Monday, Jan. 27, 2014

Monday, Jan. 27, 2014

Private contractors release first set of ideas to save state $500 million; Privatization plan would result in higher cost for divers license renewals; Harvard economists: Economic mobility hasn’t changed; Jindal seeks more control over fiscal office and auditor’s office; and LBP hosts free screening of “Inequality for All,” 5 p.m. Wednesday. $150,000 – The projected taxpayer savings if the state held pediatric day care owners and operators accountable for management. (Source: The Advocate)

Private contractors release first set of ideas to save state $500 million
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols gave legislators a glimpse of some of the efficiencies proposed by the Alvarez & Marsal consulting firm, which is being paid $5 million to find at least $500 million in savings across state government. The initial results were less than stellar. For instance, the consultant said Louisiana could save $150,000 a year by “holding owners and operators of pediatric day care facilities accountable for management” and $154,000 by “[curtailing] needless spending on high-cost medication.” Critical readers noted that the administration should already be doing these things.

Privatization plan would result in higher cost for divers license renewals
Less than two weeks after the Legislative Fiscal Office reported that wait times at Department of Motor Vehicles offices have multiplied due to shrinking staffing levels, a new plan to privatize some OMV services could result in higher costs for drivers license renewals. The plan has already been rolled out in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, despite the fact that the Legislature never voted to raise the fees or taxes. The Jindal administration circumvented that legal requirement by issuing an emergency rule to test the changes. Private operators can charge up to $18 more than the state per transaction. Renewals at state government-run offices typically cost $21.50, plus $8 for motorcycle endorsements.

Harvard economists: Economic mobility hasn’t changed
Poor children today are just as likely to climb the economic ladder as their grandparents, according to a new study by economists from Harvard University and UC Berkeley. The lack of a significant change in mobility is due to the canceling effects of two opposing forces – expanded social welfare programs (which increase mobility) and growing economic inequality (which decreases mobility). A set of companion work also showed that some parts of the country like the Southeast experience persistently lower mobility over time than other regions, such as the Mountain West. This implies that a person’s geographic location plays an important role in one’s economic mobility.

Jindal seeks more control over fiscal office and auditor’s office
In a move that some critics say is intended to increase the governor’s control over two independent state bodies, the Division of Administration sent an email to agency and department heads Jan. 16 stating that any documents sought by the Legislative Auditor or the Legislative Fiscal Officer must be submitted in the form of a formal public records request and routed through DOA. News of the email was first reported on the blog Louisiana Voice. Both agencies have recently released reports scolding some of the governor’s top initiatives — such as a report from the auditor’s office criticizing the voucher program.

LBP hosts free screening of “Inequality for All,” 5 p.m. Wednesday
LBP invites you to attend a free screening of the film “Inequality for All” on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Baton Rouge Kress Gallery (447 3rd St., Baton Rouge). The film (you can view the trailer here) is narrated by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and discusses how the massive consolidation of wealth by a few has a devastating impact on our economy and on the foundation of American democracy itself. With the 2014 legislative session fast approaching, this is a unique opportunity to discuss solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time. Light refreshments will be served at 5 p.m., and the film will start promptly at 5:30 p.m., followed by a post-screening Q&A. Seating is limited and available on a first come first serve basis. Please RSVP here so we can provide an adequate amount of refreshments. Note that an RSVP does not ensure a seat at the event.

$150,000 – The projected taxpayer savings if the state held pediatric day care owners and operators accountable for management. (Source: The Advocate)