A recent report by U.S. News and World Report ranked Louisiana dead last in the nation when ranked on a host of measurements such as health care, crime, economic opportunity and fiscal stability. The low ranking reflects some of the harsh realities that have plagued the state for decades. Although Louisiana’s industries have suffered through a recession and several natural disasters, they are beginning to bounce back, but systemic poverty continues to be drag on Louisiana’s economy. The Advocate’s editorial board writes:
Louisiana is often compared with neighboring states like Mississippi and Alabama, those which we obviously hope to pass up in these kinds of ratings. But at the very least, shouldn’t all of our citizens be expected to far better than residents of, say, Bangladesh. Compared with conditions in Third World countries, life in Louisiana generally looks pretty good. Even so, there are places in Louisiana where poverty and its consequences strike in dramatic ways.
Where are the cuts?
The Legislature failed to raise any revenue in the special session to fill the nearly $1.3 billion budget shortfall. Some lawmakers continue to argue that Louisiana has a “spending problem” and needs to focus on cutting the budget instead of replacing expiring revenue. But that argument evaporates when policymakers are asked what specific programs they want to reduce. Spoiler alert: They have no plan.. Nola.com/Times- Picayune columnist Bob Mann:
It’s not that they lack the manpower to find those cuts, if they exist. Hundreds of legislative staff members could scour the budget for them. They also have the reports of various management experts the state has paid millions over the years to find additional cuts and efficiencies (most of which were adopted long ago).And, yet, despite bleating about how Edwards should trim the budget before proposing new revenue to support health care, higher education and other critical programs, Republicans have never produced the cut. The most-charitable view is they haven’t bothered to look. Less-charitable is that the cuts aren’t there, and they know it.
Criminal justice reform will save the state money
A team of researchers at the The Pew Trusts have released a lengthy new analysis of Louisiana’s 2017 criminal justice reform effort. The report focuses on how the bipartisan package of 10 bills is helping Louisiana shed its long-held title as the state with the nation’s highest incarceration rate.
The measures steer people convicted of less serious crimes away from prison, strengthen incarceration alternatives, reduce prison terms for those who can be safely supervised in the community, and remove barriers to re-entry. Over 10 years, the reforms are projected to reduce the prison and community supervision populations by 10 and 12 percent, respectively. Lawmakers also committed to reinvest 70 percent of the estimated $262 million savings in local programs that reduce reoffending and support crime victims.
Despite ample evidence that the reforms are working as designed, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy are advocating a return to the old status quo, where Louisiana led the world in imprisonment yet had one of the highest crime rates in the nation.
Premium hikes on the horizon unless Congress acts
A new report from Covered California forecasts dramatic increases in health insurance premiums in the individual insurance marketplaces if federal action is not taken. The report lists Louisiana in the category of “catastrophic marketplace risk” with premiums expected to rise by 90 percent by 2021.
Recent health care actions taken by Congress and the federal administration — elimination of the insurance mandate penalty, proposing greater flexibility to allow for association and short-term, limited-duration plans — are expected to draw consumers out of the individual market, sowing market instability and raising the specter of large premium increases in 2019 and beyond. … Federal and state action is needed to ensure the existence of healthy, stable markets. The issues affecting markets are multi-faceted and vary across states, and policymakers should consider a mix of policy options that, in combination, can achieve the goal of ensuring that
individuals have access to quality, affordable choice of coverage.
Number of the Day:
1,148 – Number of House and Senate prefiled bills for the 2018 regular session of the Legislature. (Source: Louisiana Legislature)