Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Louisiana continues to underinvest in human capital; Gov. Jindal’s healthcare proposal on the legislative agenda; U.S. should reduce its incarceration rate; Report on premium payments disputed; and Cost-of-living adjustments fail to pass. 52 percent — The average increase in tuition for Louisiana’s 4-year universities since 2008, the 8th highest percentage increase in the nation. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Louisiana continues to underinvest in human capital
It’s no secret that Louisiana has slashed funding for public colleges and universities, and continues to underinvest in areas that drive the future economy. But a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that Louisiana’s cuts to higher education since 2008 are more than almost any other state. The report is the subject of a new blog by LBP’s Steve Spires that highlights just how poorly Louisiana fares. “… (W)hile most states are starting to reinvest resources in higher education, Louisiana is one of only a handful of states that continue to make cuts — putting us further behind our neighbors in the race to build a 21st century workforce.  Between 2008 and 2014, Louisiana cut state support per student by 43 percent (adjusted for inflation).”

Gov. Jindal’s healthcare proposal on the legislative agenda
The state senator who tried unsuccessfully to pass a constitutional amendment to let voters decide whether to expand Medicaid is back with a new health care proposal. Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, filed legislation on Wednesday that aims to put Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health care ideas into law. The latest version of Nevers’ Senate Bill 107, reflects the 24-page policy proposal the governor released earlier this spring though his nonprofit advocacy group “America Next.” The bill will be heard in the legislature next week. ‘“I asked myself why wouldn’t we do that in Louisiana first,” said Nevers. “I call it Louisiana First-America Next. … He can show them exactly a plan, not only an idea, but a plan that works in the great state of Louisiana. … I would be proud of him to implement this nationwide when he becomes the president of the United States.’”

U.S. should reduce its incarceration rate
A new report from the National Research Council says the costs of the American prison system outweigh the benefits and that states and the federal government should take steps to reduce incarceration rates that have quadrupled in recent decades.

“We are concerned that the United States is past the point where the number of people in prison can be justified by social benefits,” said committee chair Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. “We need to embark on a national conversation to rethink the role of prison in society. A criminal justice system that makes less use of incarceration can better achieve its aims than a harsher, more punitive system. There are common-sense, practical steps we can take to move in this direction.”

Report on premium payments disputed
Republicans in Congress have released a report that says only 59 percent of Louisianans who enrolled in the federal health exchange marketplace have paid their first premiums. But the report was disputed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): “These claims are based on only about half of the approximately 300 issuers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace and they do not match up with public comments from insurance companies themselves, most of which indicate that 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid their premium,” said HHS spokesman Fabien Levy. “Additionally, given the significant surge in enrollments at the end of March, it stands to reason that not all enrollees would have paid by the date of this so-called report since many people’s bills were not even due yet.”

Cost-of-living adjustments fail to pass
Two bills that would have given much needed cost-of-living adjustments to retired state employees, teachers, school employees and State Police failed to pass out of committee Wednesday. The Jindal administration opposed the legislation, saying they would rather tie the adjustments to a different piece of legislation. “(Commissioner of Administration Kristy) Nichols’ deputy counsel, Ben Hudson, said the administration favors legislation that links the 1.5 percent raises to passage of House Bill 1225, a plan to put more money toward reducing the four statewide retirement systems long-term debts.”

 

52 percent — The average increase in tuition for Louisiana’s 4-year universities since 2008, the 8th highest percentage increase in the nation. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)