The Daily Dime: December 2012

The Louisiana Budget Project’s “The Daily Dime” is a morning overview of news regarding state budget issues affecting low and moderate income families, written by policy analyst David Gray. To receive it directly in your inbox email

Thursday, December 20, 2012
Around 200,000 low-income working Louisianans would gain health-care coverage in 2014 if Louisiana were to take advantage of the opportunity to expand its Medicaid program. Many of the new enrollees would come from sectors that are vital to the state economy like health-care and tourism. The latest figures come from LBP’s analysis of new U.S. Census data in a report that shows which economic sectors would benefit most from Medicaid reform.

Cuts to hospice care are deeper than Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration portrayed last week when announcing mid-year budget cuts. The governor’s chief of staff, Kristy Nichols, told a legislative committee last week that Medicaid hospice services would still be available in nursing homes. That turned out to be false, as the Department of Health and Hospitals announced Wednesday that the cuts actually eliminate hospice treatment for all Medicaid recipients beginning Feb. 1.

The Advocate editorial board notes that Louisiana’s glitch in revenue is partly due to the full deduction of federal income taxes off one’s state tax return, which impacts how much personal income tax revenue the state receives each year. According to the Chief economist of Louisiana’s Fiscal Office, Louisiana would lose around $120 million in revenue due to tax increases that will likely occur from fiscal cliff discussions.

The Daily Dime is taking a Christmas hiatus. The next report will be published on January 3. Have a happy and safe holiday season.

200,000 – The number of workers in Louisiana that would gain health-care coverage if the state accepted Medicaid expansion (Source: LBP)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decisions to reject the Medicaid expansion and eviscerate the state’s health-care safety net could have disastrous consequences for Louisiana’s uninsured population, former LSU health chief Dr. Fred Cerise wrote in a must-read essay for the Atlantic. Cerise, who was fired by the LSU board after proposing a plan to avert the deepest cuts, takes issue with the administration’s description of the LSU hospital system. “Escalating health care spending in Louisiana and the U.S. is driven by the insured, not the uninsured,” Cerise wrote. “Jindal’s spokespersons, however, have characterized care for the uninsured in the safety net system — which has had flat spending in the last 10 years — as “unsustainable” while proposing an ambiguous plan to shift that care to a private sector that has demonstrated cost increases that actually are unsustainable.”

State District Judge R. Michael Caldwell upheld the most controversial components of a disputed teacher tenure overhaul pushed through the Legislature earlier this year by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Caldwell’s ruling allows the state to tie teacher tenure to student performance and require teachers to be rated as highly effective for five years within a six-year period before receiving tenure. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers challenged the overhaul for violating a constitutional provision that bans bills from containing multiple provisions affecting more than one law.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s mid-year budget cuts for the Department of Child and Family Services “is devastating and potentially dangerous for the women and children that need our services,” said Beth Meeks, Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The cuts created a 21.2 percent reduction in DCFS contracts for domestic violence services, which will force emergency shelter programs across the state to lose more than 42 percent of their funding from DCFS over the next six months. Louisiana consistently leads the nation in domestic homicides and has done so since 1997.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities believes Congress should not cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) benefits in “fiscal cliff” talks because SNAP benefits are already scheduled to be cut on Nov. 1, 2013. A family of three can see a benefit reduction of up to $360 a year under the scheduled cuts. Data from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture shows that 422,680 Louisiana households received SNAP benefits in FY2012. Their average monthly benefit could drop from $306 to $ 276 if the scheduled cuts occur.

$200 million – The approximate annual cuts from Medicaid and Disproportionate Share Hospital spending (funding for insured care) made on an annual basis since Gov. Jindal took office. (Source: Dr. Fred Cerise, former LSU health chief)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Federal tax increases that will result from the “fiscal cliff” will further reduce Louisiana revenue, according to Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Legislative Fiscal Office. Albrecht estimates the full fiscal cliff effect, whereby all rates revert to their Clinton-era levels, would cost the state at least $260 million. Under President Barack Obama’s proposal, which would preserve the tax cuts for households earning $250,000 or less, the cost to the state will be around $124 million.

A Baton Rouge judge will rule today on the constitutionality of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of teacher tenure rules. The rule change makes tenure harder to achieve and ties it closer to student test scores. Several teachers unions have challenged the overhaul in court, saying the bill violates the constitution’s “single object” section – which states that bills cannot contain multiple provisions affecting more than one law.

The New York Times suggests that the gas-to-liquids technology at the heart of Sasol’s $14 billion project near Lake Charles (with $2 billion in state incentives) could be a risky bet. Skeptics say the process is only profitable when oil and gas prices are sharply out of balance. “The reason you see so few G.T.L. plants is the economics are challenged at best,” William M. Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning, told reporters. “We do not see it being a relevant source of fuels over the next 20 years.”

Louisiana could collect up to $8.2 million annually through a sales tax on digital downloads, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The report notes that failing to tax digital purchases places a larger share of sales tax burden on low income households, reduces the competitiveness of small and local businesses, and causes the long-term erosion of the state’s sales tax base (as more products will be delivered over the Internet).

$260 million – The projected loss of revenue for Louisiana if Congress fails to reach a deal on the “fiscal cliff.” Source: (The Advocate)


Monday, December 17, 2012
In his Town Talk column, Gannett’s Mike Hasten notes that tax giveaways contribute to Louisiana’s annual budget shortfalls just as much as revenue shortfalls. “Lawmakers complained the state was giving away too much of its potential revenue by granting tax breaks,” Hasten writes. “But as they complained, they approved even more tax breaks.” Lawmakers have been hesitant to eliminate tax breaks out of fear that it will be perceived as a tax increase.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue is looking for ways to make sales-tax collections more efficient. But local governments fear they’ll lose revenue if the state becomes a central collection point.

Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein told a congressional committee that Louisiana would be one of the “losers” under the Affordable Care Act, which would cost the state an estimated $1.8 billion over 10 years. But Families USA director Ron Pollack says Greenstein has it all wrong, and that Louisiana would be one of the biggest winners as 400,000 low-income people would gain health coverage.

A report by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that Louisiana has the 10th highest underfunded teacher retirement system in the nation. The state’s unfunded liability for teacher retirement is $10.8 billion, a significant portion of which must be paid off by 2029 under a constitutional amendment that voters approved in 1987.

The state’s new pension plan for employees may not be equivalent to Social Security, according to a report by a Louisiana State Employees Retirement System financial adviser. If the new “cash balance” plan is not equivalent, then the state must enroll employees into Social Security and pay into Social Security 6.2 percent of payroll for those members as well as the 4 percent contribution required by the “cash balance” plan.

The former editor of the American Press added his voice to those who think Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration needs to stop using one-time funds to close budget deficits. “You would think the governor would have learned by now that surplus money that is here today will be gone tomorrow if he spends it,” Jim Beam stated in his column. Mid-year cuts mostly harm health-care and higher education, since neither of those budget areas is protected from cuts.

$4,773 – The annual income threshold for a non-pregnant adult in a Louisiana family of three to qualify for Medicaid (Source: Times-Picayune)


Friday, December 14, 2012
Current-year state revenues are coming in $129 million below projections, and the state is spending more than expected on K-12 education and public colleges. The result was $166 million in mid-year cuts, ordered by Gov. Bobby Jindal and reviewed this morning by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Among other things, the cuts mean 394 jobs are being eliminated and the end of Medicaid hospice services and dental benefits for pregnant women. The state’s money troubles are far from over, as the Revenue Estimating Conference downgraded next year’s forecast by $207 million, bringing the overall gap for 2013-14 to $1.2 billion.

Today is the deadline for states to decide whether they want to design and run their own health insurance exchange or defer to the federal government. Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein reiterated Gov. Jindal’s opposition to running the state’s health exchange during a Congressional hearing in Washington D.C. A report by LBP analyst Steve Spires released earlier this year explains why creating a health insurance exchange is the right choice for Louisiana.

Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy told Bayou Buzz that refusing Medicaid expansion will bankrupt the new Charity hospital in New Orleans. “If you read the business plan, for the new Charity hospital in New Orleans, it assumes that we will be a part of the Medicaid portion of Obamacare,” Kennedy told Bayou Buzz in a recent interview, “If we do not join the Medicaid portion of Obamacare, this new hospital will go bankrupt.”

A new study by the Pew Center on the States reported that Louisiana’s Severance Tax Relief Program for horizontal wells and the Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit “essentially function as entitlement programs” and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more a year than originally planned. The PEW study mirrors an earlier report by LBP that revealed the state’s film tax credit is a poor investment for taxpayers.

5– Consecutive years that Louisiana has experienced mid-year budget shortfalls.


Thursday, December 13, 2012
Louisiana could lose $140 million in tobacco-settlement revenue thanks to a dispute over the state’s compliance with a 1998 master settlement with tobacco companies. The news was delivered to a legislative committee Wednesday by a top aide to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Tobacco companies are accusing several states, including Louisiana, of failing to live up to their end of the deal by not doing enough to collect fees from small, off-brand tobacco companies that were not part of the original deal. Among other things, tobacco dollars help fund the state’s TOPS college scholarship program.

The former communications director for the state Department of Health and Hospitals – now an executive with EQ Health Solutions – expects Gov. Bobby Jindal to soften his stance on Medicaid expansion and ultimately accept the federal government’s offer to cover up to 400,000 low-income Louisianans. The reason: Hospitals and other Medicaid-dependent providers can’t make their balance sheets work without the new dollars, especially since there will be less money available to care for the uninsured.

Members of the State Civil Service Commission approved a plan to lay off about 350 workers at Southeast Louisiana Hospital and to allow a private Florida firm to take over services at the Mandeville facility. The Department of Health and Hospitals believes the closure will save $1.6 million in its first year and $3.5 million in subsequent years.

Employees at three LSU-run public hospitals will also face layoffs next spring and need to reapply for positions with the new private providers, according to state health secretary Bruce Greenstein. The only exception will be the doctors, who will remain employed by LSU’s physician network.

Tim Barfield, the soon-to-be secretary of Louisiana’s Department of the Revenue, told the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that the goal of Gov. Jindal’s proposed tax reforms is to make it easier for businesses to navigate the state’s tax system – not to generate more revenue for critical social services like hospitals and public education.

State utility regulators reduced the costs of inmate phone calls by 25 percent for a 12-minute call, the average length of a call from prison. The reduced rate is only available for calls made to family members, clergy, counsel and certain government agencies, and the changes will go into effect in two years for jails with current vendor contracts. The reduced rates are not expected to negatively impact jails’ profitability.

140,000,000 – The amount of money Louisiana may have to give to tobacco companies for violating a 1998 settlement agreement (Source: The Advocate)


Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted teachers unions during his keynote address at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution. The governor said teachers unions spend “millions of dollars every year to make sure you don’t ever get the opportunity to get your child out of a failing school and into a different school.” Teachers unions took Gov. Jindal’s hallmark voucher program to court after it was rushed through the Legislature. A judge ruled that the school voucher program is unconstitutionally financed.

The number of children living with unemployed parents in Louisiana has grown by more than 45 percent over pre-recession levels, according to citing a recent Urban Institute study. LBP analyst David Gray goes into more detail on why this study should serve as a guide for Louisiana policymakers, who have an opportunity to make the state’s tax code less regressive when they undertake reform efforts next year.

The Times-Picayune’s editorial board added its voice to those who think Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration needs to be more transparent with the public. According to the editorial board, “Louisianians have a right to know how the state is conducting the public’s business, including how the administration hoped to portray the Medicaid cuts.” Rep. John Bel Edwards agrees, noting in a letter to The Advocate that the public deserves better than the governor’s tactics “to hide the public’s business from public’s view.”

The Associated Press reported Monday that top administration officials used their personal email accounts as a means of maneuvering around public records requests – specifically requests regarding how to handle $523 million in Medicaid cuts.

The chairman of the state Senate’s retirement panel floated a multifaceted plan to fund cost-of-living increases for state retirees. The plan involves dedicating a fraction of state legal settlements, interest off unclaimed property, and tax and fee increases toward reducing the long-term debts of the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, and Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. Combined, the two systems have unfunded liabilities totaling $18 billion, a good part of which must be paid off by 2029.

142 – The percent increase from 2007 to 2012 of the number of Louisiana children living with long-term unemployed parents (Sources: LBP, Urban Institute)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Louisiana Department of Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret criticized the state’s Enterprise Zone Program at a meeting of the Revenue Study Commission on Monday. Moret recognized that the program “shifted well beyond what it was intended to do” and that the state is “looking at a number of options for potential tweaks to the program in the context of an overall tax reform effort.”

Moret’s comments echoed testimony by the Louisiana Budget Project, which included several recommendations for how to strengthen the Enterprise Zone program to lower its cost conform to its original intent. Click here to read LBP’s written testimony about enterprise zones, and click here to read LBP’s recommendations for improving Louisiana’s Motion Picture Tax Credit program.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu used Gov. Bobby Jindal’s own words in calling on the governor to set up a state health insurance exchange rather than outsourcing that task to the federal government. Noting that Jindal recently called for an end to “dumbed-down conservatism” and “bumper sticker slogans,” Landrieu wrote in a letter to The Advocate that Jindal “is about to squander an opportunity to reduce health insurance premiums, strengthen our economy by supporting businesses and health providers and provide access to care for Louisiana’s uninsured — all for the sake of ideology.”

President Barack Obama’s administration rejected a partial Medicaid expansion plan proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal and 10 other Republican governors, who sought federal funds for Medicaid expansion up to 100 percent of the federal poverty line. The Obama administration said the states cannot receive federal funding for partial Medicaid expansion, but that they could seek a waiver in 2017 if they show they would still be providing similar coverage and benefits as called for under the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Bobby Jindal will give the keynote address  at a school choice event hosted by the Brookings Institution, which will release its annual Education Choice and Competition Index. The index ranks and analyzes more than 100 of the largest school districts in America on their extent of school choice and competition. The governor’s speech comes in the wake of two court decisions declaring parts of his sweeping educational reform plan unconstitutional. Click here to register for the online broadcast, which begins at 12:30pm CST.

Louisiana is one of the least healthiest states in the nation, according to the United Health Foundations’ America’s Health Rankings. Although the state has one of the lowest levels of binge drinking and high child immunization coverage, the state ranked 49th overall due to a high prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and diabetes; a high percentage of children in poverty; a high infant mortality rate; a high prevalence of low birth weight; and a high rate of preventable hospitalizations.

75 – The percent of Enterprise Zone jobs created outside of an economically depressed community (Source: LBP Testimony to Revenue Study Commission)


Monday, December 10, 2012
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top aides used personal email accounts to make it more difficult for the public to use public records laws for information on the hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid cuts. The private emails, obtained by the Associated Press, focused on crafting a media strategy for announcing how the state would make $523 million in health care cuts.

Rep. Joel Robideaux shed some light on potential Revenue Study Commission recommendations that will be included in its report once the body finishes its review of hundreds of tax exemptions offered by the state. Three of the recommendations include mandating expiration dates on future exemptions, requiring legislative review if exemptions exceed their estimated costs, and forcing legislators to introduce new exemptions a year in advance to give fiscal staff more time to review proposals.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced three public-private partnerships for LSU hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette and Houma. Louisiana Children’s Medical Center will operate the academic medical center under construction in New Orleans, Lafayette General Health System will operate the University Medical Center in Lafayette, and Ochsner Health System will operate the Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma.

Judge Tim Kelley’s recent ruling on the state’s voucher program dodged two key administrative questions, according to The Advocate. Judge Kelley neither defined a majority vote nor confirmed that bills must have a single legislative object – leaving both items for the Legislature to decide. The voucher bill passed with 51 legislative votes since the Speaker ruled that a majority of the House in attendance, not a 53-vote majority, was required, and the bill included several legislative objects.

Another LSU official is leaving the state’s flagship institution for a new job. Katrice Albert, LSU’s vice provost for equity, diversity and community outreach, is now the vice president for equity and diversity with the University of Minnesota System, according to the Baton Rouge Business Report.

26 – The maximum number of weeks one can claim unemployment benefits in Louisiana if federal emergency benefits expire at the end of the year. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)


Friday, December 7, 2012
Gov. Bobby Jindal penned an op-ed about the fiscal cliff in Politico on Thursday, resurrecting old conservative bromides like a federal balanced budget amendment, a supermajority requirement for tax increases and term limits for members of Congress. That brought a rebuke from Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who wrote on his New York Times blog that Jindal doesn’t understand fiscal policy.

LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope says the LSU Board of Supervisors has not included faculty, staff, and students in a decision that would consolidate campuses and name a chief executive officer at the top to run the network of academic campuses. The Board is scheduled to vote Friday on the leadership issue.

A report by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., claims Louisiana is among several states that have wasted federal anti-terrorism dollars. Among other things, the report says Louisiana used the money for license plate readers in Jefferson Parish to catch car thieves, and for cell phone bills for emergency personnel in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The US unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008.The new data released by the Department of Labor also shows that the nation added 146,000 jobs in November.

A former state employee for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness filed a whistle-blower lawsuit saying he was fired for complaining about the state’s excessive wasting of ice during Hurricane Isaac. The former employee, Bruce Ellis, also noted that the state unnecessarily tripled its stockpile of tarps – costing taxpayers another $13 million.

Don’t forget to vote in runoff elections tomorrow. Voters can use this online tool to receive more information about the races and propositions on their ballots.

36 – The percent of every dollar in Louisiana revenue that funded the correctional system in 2010 (Source: Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections)


Thursday, December 6, 2012
A new report from the White House shows that income tax rates will rise for 1.6 million middle class Louisiana families if Congress and President Obama fail to reach a deal on resolving the fiscal cliff. The report notes that a couple with one child and an income of $130,000 would see a $2,250 tax increase, and a single mother with two children working full time at $12 an hour would see taxes increase by $4,040.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell elected not to wade into an ongoing dispute between Gov. Bobby Jindal and conservative state legislators who allege that the state budget was crafted in an unconstitutional manner because it relies heavily on one-time dollars and other uncertain sources of revenue..The rejection may set the stage for future lawsuits if a new budget that includes questionable funding schemes is passed.

State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell believes Louisiana’s colleges and universities should be able to set tuition rates and charge more for high-cost, high-demand programs. “For us to be successful, we need the ability to increase tuition,” Purcell told the Louisiana Board of Regents. Louisiana is the only state in the country in which the Legislature has total control over tuition, and the state is last in funding for four-year schools.

Louisiana has inadequate funding for state tobacco prevention programs, according to a new report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The report notes that state funding for tobacco prevention programs is only 13 percent of the total recommended by the Center for Disease Control. It also notes that for every $1 spent on prevention, tobacco marketers spent $27.60 on advertising. The annual smoking-related health cost in Louisiana was $1.47 billion.

Don’t forget to vote in the December 8 runoff elections. Voters can use this online tool to receive more information about the races and propositions on their ballots.

1,600,000 – The number of Louisiana families that will experience an income tax increase if fiscal cliff deals are not reached. (Source: The White House)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012
South African energy giant Sasol Ltd. will get an incentive package worth $135 million from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to build a multibillion-dollar complex near Lake Charles that will turn natural gas into diesel, chemicals and other fuels, the Associated Press reports. The incentives include tax breaks, a $20 million worker training facility and a $115 million payment to the company for land and infrastructure that will be left to a future administration and lawmakers to fund.

The significant federal tax increase for all Americans that will occur if Congress and the president do not reach an agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff” will lead to less tax revenue for Louisiana since the state allows full deductibility of federal income taxes. There’s also a lot at stake for low- and middle-income Louisiana residents if an agreement has too many entitlement cuts or makes the tax code less progressive.

LSU officials are delaying plans to lay off 1,500 employees as negotiations continue on privatization of the state health-care safety net, the Advocate reports. LSU believes some private organizations are willing to maintain services at current hospitals. But state officials warn that layoffs are still possible if negotiations break down.

The Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana will file an analysis with the IRS that shows Gov. Bobby Jindal administration’s 401(k)-type pension plan for future state employee hires could add to state taxpayer and employee costs. The retirement system wants the IRS to rule on the Social Security equivalent status of the governor’s “cash balance” pension plan.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a list of 45 private “course choice” providers on Tuesday. But last week’s court ruling that declared funding for Louisiana’s voucher program unconstitutional means the state may have no funds to pay for the course choice initiative.

A BESE committee also approved a plan to overhaul early-childhood programs, even though some critics said the new performance guidelines and higher academic standards will require more financial support from the state to be successful.

The Louisiana Supreme Court is attempting to determine whether life sentences for juveniles violate a federal mandate. In 2010, the US Supreme Court banned mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders in crimes that don’t involve homicide. In Louisiana, some life sentences for juveniles that don’t involve a homicide effectively mean they will not leave prison alive.

Don’t forget to vote in the December 8 runoff elections. Voters can use this online tool to receive more information about the races and propositions on their ballots.

$1.10 – The amount of federal assistance Louisiana receives for every taxpayer dollar sent to Washington (Source:


Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Louisiana spends at least $1.79 billion per year on business incentive programs, according to a series by the New York Times that examines business incentives and their impact on jobs. The Louisiana industries receiving the most taxpayer dollars are oil and gas, film, and manufacturing, and the top incentives come in the form of corporate income tax breaks, property tax abatements, and personal income tax credits.

LBP analyst Steve Spries goes into more detail on how Louisiana’s business tax incentives negatively impact the state’s ability to fund education, health care and infrastructure programs.

Extending the temporary federal payroll tax cut through 2013 is a good deal for Louisiana workers, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Using conservative figures, CBPP concludes that an extension of the payroll tax cut through 2013 will put an average of $511 in the pockets of nearly 2 million Louisiana workers.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu called on Gov. Bobby Jindal to end his opposition to expanding Louisiana’s Medicaid program. In a letter to the governor, Landrieu said that Republican efforts to repeal the landmark 2010 health-care reform law won’t succeed, and that refusing to engage in the process is not a sign of leadership.

St. Tammany Parish and Florida-based Meridian Behavioral Health Service will assume responsibility for Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville. The state planned to close the mental health facility over the summer due to budget cuts. St. Tammany Parish will manage all property at Southeast and Meridian will operate 58 psychiatric inpatient beds: 42 for youths and 16 for adults.

The Louisiana Transportation Authority failed to collect tolls from hundreds of thousands of motorists traveling Louisiana Highway 1, according to a new report by the Legislative Auditor. The report notes that approximately 300,000 violation images remain unprocessed and that the department has not billed out-of-state license plate holders. The uncollected funds are estimated to cost around $2 million.

Another Legislative Auditor report citied Acadiana Technical College for failing to issue hardship waivers to students who cannot afford certain fees. The Louisiana Legislature mandated the hardship waivers in 2008. The report also noted that Acadiana Technical College failed to return$4,092 to the federal government or pay $514 owed to these students for Pell Grants.

21 – The percent of every dollar in the state budget that Louisiana spends on business incentive programs (Source: New York Times)


Monday, December 3, 2012
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cuts to higher education are being blamed for the flight of top talent from Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. Since April, two system presidents and three campus leaders have either retired, been dismissed or announced an upcoming retirement. The cuts are also causing some department heads, deans and faculty members to begin searching outside Louisiana for jobs in states with more stable budget situations.

Former Louisiana health chief Alan Levine and the company where he is a top executive, Health Management Associates, came in for some rough treatment in a “60 Minutes” investigation that alleged the hospital chain pressured doctors to admit more patients into the hospital whether or not they needed the care. Levine left his post at the state Department of Health and Hospitals in 2010, but his name recently surfaced as an advisor to LSU officials who are working to sell off chunks of the state safety-net hospital system.

Superintendent of Education John White had harsh words for two teacher unions, blaming them for hindering efforts to improve student achievement in public schools. White, who receives an annual salary of $275,000 per year, commented on the unions after the 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley ruled that the state’s voucher law is unconstitutional.

A decision is expected today on the future of Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville, which Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is planning to close in response to budget pressures. Following the announced closure, the Department of Health and Hospitals picked Meridian Behavioral Health of Gainesville, Fla., to take over some operations at the state-owned psychiatric hospital.

The state fined Texas Brine $100,000 over the weekend for failing to obey several safety directives the state issued Nov. 12 regarding the sinkhole in Assumption Parish. The sinkhole has impacted the lives of 150 residences in the area, which were ordered to evacuate immediately because of concerns for their safety. The company is reviewing the fine and is expected to release a statement today.

Don’t forget to vote in the December 8 runoff elections. Voters can use this online tool to receive more information about the races and propositions on their ballots.

425,000,000 – The amount of money Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has cut from higher education budgets since 2008 (Source: The Advocate)


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November 2012
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