Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Will gas tax gain momentum in 2015; Advocate: More transparency needed in Bayou Health ; Obama’s anti-poverty spending exceeds his predecessors; Krugman: Housing prices, not taxes, fuel sunbelt boom

Will gas tax gain momentum in 2015?
If you can’t get your idea through the Legislature, the adage goes, create a commission to study the issue. That seems to be the motive behind the Transportation Funding Task Force, which was created by lawmakers this year to look for ways to tackle Louisiana’s $12 billion backlog of transportation needs. Sen. Robert Adley tells The Advocate that his goal is to come up with a plan to come up with at least $70 million that is diverted each year from the state’s transportation trust fund to pay for other priorities.

But any attempt to raise the state’s 38.4 cent per gallon gas tax will likely find tough sledding in the Legislature, where Gov. Bobby Jindal has opposed most attempts to generate new revenue.

 

Advocate: More transparency needed in Bayou Health
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration needs to do a better job of verifying the claims it makes about its privatized Medicaid program, The Advocate writes in its lead editorial on Monday. The comments come in response to a scathing audit that found numerous problems with an administration “transparency” report about the Bayou Health program.

“While Jindal and the Legislature have opposed expanding Medicaid coverage of the working poor, that is also likely to come in time, because even the subsidized insurance of the exchanges of the Affordable Care Act is not affordable enough for those in minimum-wage jobs. We would like to see more agreement about the facts, even if opinions differ on the wisdom of the Bayou Health initiative. And we, like Jindal, would like to see Medicaid coverage that generates better health outcomes as well as cost savings.”

 

Obama’s anti-poverty spending exceeds his predecessors
While some critics have excoriated President Barack Obama for a perceived lack of empathy with the protesters in Ferguson, Mo., a pair of Princeton academicians use numbers to argue that this president has been more committed to fighting poverty in low-income communities of color than any of his Democratic predecessors going back a half century.

“The Congressional Budget Office’s inflation-adjusted numbers show that Mr. Obama sought to spend far more on means-tested anti-poverty programs than other first-term Democratic presidents. The targeted needs include food, housing, education, health care and cash.

Mr. Obama earmarked 17 percent of his budget for these needs, versus Mr. Clinton’s 12 percent and Jimmy Carter’s 8 percent. These presidents all faced economic challenges, although of different degrees and strength. Each was committed to the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged. But Mr. Obama made good on that commitment far more concretely.”

 

Krugman: Housing prices, not taxes, fuel sunbelt boom
The New York Times’ Nobel laureate Paul Krugman offers an alternative explanation for why Americans are continuing to migrate from dense urban centers on the East and West coasts to sunbelt cities such as Atlanta and Houston, where wages are typically lower. It’s not the generally low taxes and regulations, as some conservatives argue. It’s the fact that housing costs much less in the South, which lowers the overall cost of living.

“And this, in turn, means that the growth of the Sunbelt isn’t the kind of success story conservatives would have us believe. Yes, Americans are moving to places like Texas, but, in a fundamental sense, they’re moving the wrong way, leaving local economies where their productivity is high for destinations where it’s lower. And the way to make the country richer is to encourage them to move back, by making housing in dense, high-wage metropolitan areas more affordable.”

 

Number of the Day
$540 million –
Amount spent on road and bridge upgrades in Baton Rouge area since 2008. Louisiana still faces a $12 billion backlog of transportation needs. (Source: The Advocate)