Myth vs. fact on the state budget

Myth vs. fact on the state budget

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne spoke with local business leaders Wednesday at the Baton Rotary Club, and used the occasion to refute some of the more common myths around the state budget -- the most potent one being that our government has grown under Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administrations.

Number of the Day

39,900 - Estimated number of Louisiana children identified as homeless by their school district in the 2015-16 school year. (Source: Center on Budget Policy & Priorities)

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne spoke with local business leaders Wednesday at the Baton Rotary Club, and used the occasion to refute some of the more common myths around the state budget — the most potent one being that our government has grown under Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administrations. Dardenne said the growth in Louisiana’s operating budget is largely due to increases in federal funding, while state funds have shrunk by nearly $1 billion over the last decade. Stephanie Riegel at Business Report sums it up:

Dardenne explained that the growth in spending often pointed to by business and anti-tax groups has come from the federal side of the state budget. Federal dollars account for an increasingly large part of the state budget—40% today compared to 23% in 1982. He went on to explain that only state general fund dollars are available to spend, and of that amount nearly half—$5.1 billion of $9.4 billion—is discretionary. The rest is dedicated to K-12 education, paying off state debt and local governments.

 

Housing help for Louisianans threatened

According to a new fact sheet from the Center on Budget Policy & Priorities, more than 121,500 Louisianans rely on the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program for safe and adequate housing. This program is especially critical for homeless families with children, who make up 77 percent of Louisiana’s voucher recipients. Research consistently shows that children who are able to access housing through the voucher program have better outcomes in education and health, and are less likely to experience violence and poverty as adults. Without an increase in federal funding for this program, some Louisiana families stand to lose housing moving forward:

Louisiana could lose 3,800 vouchers in 2018 if Congress does not increase renewal funding sufficiently to cover rising rents and other costs, worsening homelessness and housing instability among low-income residents. Children in homeless families that receive housing vouchers change schools less often and are 42% less likely to be separated from their families and placed into foster care. Their families are also 20% less likely to be food insecure and 34% less likely to experience domestic violence.

 

Market instability leads to higher premiums

The debate on federal health care policy hasn’t just created anxiety among consumers, but also among insurers. A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows insurers in the individual marketplace are requesting premium increases in the double digits. Kaiser attributes the market changes to mixed signals from President Donald Trump. CBS News reports:

Researchers from the Kaiser foundation looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Overall, they found that 15 of those cities will see increases of 10 percent or more next year. About 10 million people who buy policies through HealthCare.gov and state-run markets are potentially affected, as well as another 5 million to 7 million who purchase individual policies on their own.

 

Bipartisan ACA fix gaining momentum

When Congress returns from August recess, it will likely be to continue discussion on federal health care policy changes. A group of health policy experts that span the ideological spectrum has a plan which they’re hoping to sell to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The plan, outlined by Vox here, would solidify funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),  explore expansions of Health Savings Accounts, encourage state innovation and continue funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies.

The big deal here is who now supports that plan. The group includes both Democrats who advocated vociferously for Obamacare’s passage and Republicans who have served in previous administrations or advised recent presidential candidates, and who have argued for scrapping much or all of the law. It’s not a bunch of centrist health policy experts. In fact, those who began the effort specifically wanted to avoid a centrist effort. They felt it was important to have experts who are generally divided on health care issues. If that group could come together, then Congress might have a shot too.

 

Number of the Day

39,900 – Estimated number of Louisiana children identified as homeless by their school district in the 2015-16 school year. (Source: Center on Budget Policy & Priorities)