Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Legislative committees to review health plan changes; Paul Krugman: Business vs. Economics; State Department of Education releases new report on voucher program; NOLA teachers laid off after Katrina will appeal case to U.S. Supreme Court; More than 8,300 students will be displaced if St. George incorporates

Legislative committees to review health plan changes
The budget committees in the House and Senate will meet jointly this Friday to learn more about controversial changes to the state employee health plan that will force 230,000 state employees, retirees and family members paying more for their care next year. reports that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is expected to present revisions to its original proposal, which drew widespread condemnation from lawmakers for raising out-of-pocket costs.

The Legislature’s financial analysts had said the 2015 health care policies would cost some people significantly more money out of pocket — particularly those who suffer from a chronic medical problem or who land in the hospital. The Retired State Employees Association of Louisiana has been so upset about the changes to the health care policies that it is considering suing the Jindal administration over the modifications.


Paul Krugman: Business vs. Economics
Successful business leaders are not necessarily the best candidates to fix a struggling national (or state) economy. That’s because there are key differences between turning around a failing enterprise and turning around a failing economy. As Paul Krugman writes for The New York Times:

So think of what happens when a successful businessperson looks at a troubled economy and tries to apply the lessons of business experience. He or (rarely) she sees the troubled economy as something like a troubled company, which needs to cut costs and become competitive. To create jobs, the businessperson thinks, wages must come down, expenses must be reduced; in general, belts must be tightened. And surely gimmicks like deficit spending or printing more money can’t solve what must be a fundamental problem. In reality, however, cutting wages and spending in a depressed economy just aggravates the real problem, which is inadequate demand. Deficit spending and aggressive money-printing, on the other hand, can help a lot.


State Department of Education releases new report on voucher program
Only 44 percent of students receiving a state voucher to attend a private school scored basic or above on the LEAP (grades 4 and 8) and iLEAP (grades 3, 5, 6 and 7) tests last year, according to a new annual report from the state Department of Education. While the new scores represent an improvement from the previous year (41.6 percent), the fact that fewer than half of all voucher students are scoring well on proficiency tests raises major questions about the quality of education that voucher students receive at private schools. Voucher supporters contend that the program saves money and boosts academic outcomes. But critics contend that the program needs better accountability and transparency requirements, and some believe the state should not use taxpayer dollars to fund private schools.


NOLA teachers laid off after Katrina will appeal case to U.S. Supreme Court
Lawyers representing 7,600 New Orleans public school teachers who were fired after Hurricane Katrina contend that the Orleans Parish School Board and the state should pay their clients $1.5 billion for lost wages and benefits. But the Louisiana Supreme Court disagreed Friday, ruling that the teachers already received compensation from another court case and that the state’s Recovery School District had no obligation to rehire the former employees as schools reopened. As reports, the case has garnered a lot of public attention because of the way teachers were fired (termination letters were in some cases delivered to houses that had been washed away in the storm) and because a study by former Loyola University professor Andre Perry concluded that the layoffs handicapped economic growth in the city’s African-American middle class. The case will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


More than 8,300 students will be displaced if St. George incorporates
The effort to form a new city within East Baton Rouge Parish could force thousands of families to find new schools for their kids. A study by Together Baton Rouge, which opposes the effort to incorporate the new city of St. George, finds that 8,347 students “would no longer be eligible to attend their current schools, because those schools no longer would be within the school district in which they reside.” The study also finds that 91 percent of those students live in the proposed boundaries of St. George and attend schools outside those boundaries. The incorporation would also cause a massive capacity shortage in St. George. The new city would have 12,049 public school students but only 4,900 public school seats – a capacity shortage of 7,149 public school seats. You can click here to read the entire report.


Number of the Day
44 percent
– The percent of voucher students scoring basic or above on the LEAP (grades 4 and 8) and iLEAP (grades 3, 5, 6 and 7) tests in 2013-14 (Source: LA Dept. of Education)