Money should follow the patients in health care
Gov. Bobby Jindal has long maintained that the quality of a child’s education shouldn’t be determined by their zip code or the economic status of their parents. It’s the central justification for launching the country’s most ambitious school-voucher plan. But the same theory should hold true for health care, LBP Director Jan Moller argues in a letter that ran in this morning’s Baton Rouge Advocate. “Louisiana has a segregated, two-tier health care system: a private system for people with insurance and public, state-owned charity hospitals that primarily treat the uninsured. Over the decades, many policymakers have recommended moving away from this antiquated, 20th-century model to a new model that starts with helping everyone get portable health insurance. Now, as part of the federal health law, Louisiana has the option to use federal dollars to help hundreds of thousands of low-income adults get covered. Yet, the governor and the Legislature are refusing to take advantage of this opportunity.”
States go their own way on the minimum wage
While President Barack Obama’s push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is hopelessly stalled on Capitol Hill, an increasing number of states are taking matters into their own hands, the New York Times reports. Seven states and the District of Columbia have raised the minimum wage on their own in the last 14 months, with the latest being West Virginia, and another 34 states (including Louisiana) are debating the issue. “The state minimum-wage actions, which have created a patchwork of minimum wages across the country, are not the uniform step that Mr. Obama and his allies would prefer. Some states have minimum wages on the books that are below the current federal level of $7.25 an hour, meaning that the federal level automatically applies to them. Other states already require wages to start at $8, $8.25 or higher. The District of Columbia, which already has an $8.25 per hour minimum wage, could have the highest in the nation on July 1, 2016, when it rises to $11.25.”
Louisiana’s debate on a higher wage is expected to kick off next Thursday, when several bills on the subject will be heard in the House Labor Committee. A recent report by LBP that shows raising the wage would have a positive impact on jobs and the overall state economy can be found here.
Full employment key to economic recovery
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities launched a new initiative this week focused on the role that Congress can play in stimulating economic growth and full employment. “For years, central bank officials have complained that expectations that they can single-handedly revive the nation’s anemic economy are misplaced. The Fed can only set the stage for stronger growth; Congress must also play its part. But between fiscal cliffs and debt ceiling standoffs, lawmakers instead seem to be intent on shutting down the entire production.”
Economist Jared Bernstein gives an overview of the need for full employment here, where he includes some suggestions for boosting the labor market such as fiscal stimulus, worksharing, lowering the trade deficit and increasing the use of apprenticeships and other on-the-job training programs.
Common Core remains in place
The Common Core educational standards adopted in 2010 will likely remain in place after the House Education Committee rejected an attempt to repeal them that had the backing of an unlikely coalition of conservative legislators, teachers unions, school boards and Gov. Bobby Jindal. Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said the goal of his House Bill 381 was to “give us a chance to develop our own standards equal or higher than what we have today.”
Forty-four other states have adopted Common Core, and the subject was not controversial in Louisiana until last year, when some conservatives began complaining that it was a government overreach. Backers say the new rules will improve student achievement in a state that has long lagged behind most of the nation.