Bobby Jindal to lead the REC

Bobby Jindal to lead the REC

In their latest effort to end a months-long stalemate, legislative leaders have tapped former Gov. Bobby Jindal to prepare the state’s official revenue forecast. The plan, unveiled at a Sunday news conference, calls for the former two-term governor to single-handedly replace the four-member Revenue Estimating Conference, which decides how much money the state can spend each year. The panel operates by consensus, but has been deadlocked in recent months over House Speaker Taylor Barras’ refusal to approve an updated forecast. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte has the scoop:

“If anyone can do the work of two independent state economists, three politicians and an LSU professor, it’s Bobby Jindal – just ask him and he’ll gladly tell you,” Barras said. The speaker added that the REC had become outdated and wasteful, having been founded more than 30 years ago. “It’s time we realized that the 80’s are over,” Barras said. “We are all about streamlining and privatizing government, and nothing says streamlining quite like Bobby Jindal. Besides, he seems to have plenty of time on his hands these days.” Barras anticipates that the reconstituted REC will have little difficulty arriving at a unanimous recommendation.


Toddler film credits
In a move Gov. John Bel Edwards is touting as a “down payment” on early childhood education, the administration is proposing new incentives to any Louisiana-based film or TV productions that feature children birth through age 3. State taxpayers currently underwrite up to 40 percent of movies and television shows made in Louisiana. Legislation filed for the upcoming session by Sen. J.P. Morrell would boost that to 50 percent for productions that feature Louisiana kids. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly told The Advocate that the plan would allow infants and toddlers to “earn while they learn” while giving Hollywood yet another reason to parachute into the Pelican State.

LED Director Don Pierson dismissed concerns by some critics that too much screen time would harm children at a critical stage of neurological development. “They would be on the screen, not looking at the screen,” Pierson explained. And while the kids are on set, their moms and dads would be free to go to work and attend school. While the arrangement is no substitute for a high-quality early learning environment, state officials say it’s never too early for children to learn a trade.


Work requirements for nursing home residents
Conservatives in the state Legislature are stepping up their campaign to make sure that people who receive Medicaid coverage either work or volunteer for at least 20 hours per week. The latest plan, outlined in SB 365, preflied by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, is aimed at nursing home residents. Hewitt told Times-Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue that the work could include tasks such as knitting socks and sweaters, helping out in the kitchen or performing gardening chores.

“Many nursing home residents aren’t just getting 24/7 health care, they also get free room and board – courtesy of Joe and Jane taxpayer,” Hewitt said. “The least they could do is clean up a little, maybe make sure the grass gets mowed once a week.” Louisiana Nursing Home Association officials have given the plan a lukewarm endorsement, saying they expect to reap substantial savings in staffing costs. But they still plan to ask the Legislature for their annual rate increase, a spokeswoman said.


But seriously …

– The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children has an excellent new report about the ways that other states are funding early childhood education.

– The AP’s Melinda Deslatte previews some of the non-budget controversies that will consume legislators this spring, including taxes, the death penalty, the minimum wage and milk labeling.

– The Times-Picayune editorial board and columnist Jarvis DeBerry both weighed in on the sky-high eviction rate in the Crescent City.

– A political battle is brewing over whether to shift some money from public schools into early childhood education, Will Sentell reports.

The Advocate’s editorial board thinks Congress, not the courts, should fix the Affordable Care Act.

– The LBP is proud to announce the release of its new website. You can check it out here.


Number of the Day
85 – Percent decrease in the number of homeless people in New Orleans since 2011, when the city launched a 10-year plan to end homelessness. There are recent signs that progress has halted and homelessness is once again rising (Source: Times-Picayune)