politics

Education
5:55 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

BESE approves accountability plan for vouchers

Louisiana's top education board has backed accountability standards suggested by Superintendent of Education John White for the private schools that will get taxpayer-subsidized students through the voucher program.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 9-2 Tuesday for the criteria.

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Healthcare Cuts
8:58 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Lawmakers criticize few details in state health cuts

Louisiana lawmakers are bristling about getting few details and no ability to decide the $523 million in budget cuts Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has made to health care programs.

Several complained the governor's staff wasn't explaining the gravity of the slashing and the implications on the LSU network of public hospitals and clinics that care for the poor and uninsured.

The cuts are tied to a drop in Louisiana's federal Medicaid funding that was passed in congressional legislation after the state's 2012-13 budget was already crafted.

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Southeast Louisiana Hospital
12:22 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Mandeville psychiatric hospital prepares to close

Almost 60 years since it opened, the Southeast Louisiana Hospital — a psychiatric facility that gained national notoriety in 1959 when then-Gov. Earl Long was briefly committed there — is preparing to close down its daily operations.

The Times-Picayune reports that the hospital's closing is part of an $859 million cut to the state's federal Medicaid program.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals hopes to send all 176 beds occupied at the hospital to other public and private hospitals in the state.

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DWI Tracking
4:00 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

Idea of creating DWI tracking system revived

The idea of creating a statewide DWI tracking system is gaining steam again.

The Advocate reports that the 2004 death of an ambitious Louisiana project called the Integrated Criminal Justice Information System dashed hopes for a statewide DWI tracking system that was to be tied to it.

But interest in reviving that program may be growing.

The state Legislature recently requested that the mothballed Integrated Criminal Justice Information System policy board reconvene and report its progress to state lawmakers during the 2013 regular session.

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Jefferson Performing Arts Center
12:52 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

Credit line blocked for JPAS project

Rep. Cameron Henry has blocked the use of almost $10 million in lines of credit intended for the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, saying he wants Jefferson Parish officials to explain why the project costs have skyrocketed.

The Times-Picayune reports the Metairie Republican asked the state Bond Commission for a 30-day delay in reauthorization of the line of credit.

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State Healthcare
12:43 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

Blue Cross wins contract to run state health plans

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has been chosen by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to take over the job of managing a state employee health care plan.

The company was the lowest bidder, The Advocate reports offering to do the work cheaper than Humana and United Healthcare, beginning Jan. 31.

Louisiana Tax Breaks
12:39 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

A look at what tax breaks cost Louisiana

Louisiana gives out about $4.4 billion in tax breaks to businesses and individuals each year. A look at the major categories of taxes collected and tax exemptions in the just-ended 2011-12 budget year, according to estimates from the state revenue department:

Corporate Income Taxes:

  • Potential collections: $1.7 billion.
  • Actual collections: $198 million.
  • Estimated exemptions: $1.5 billion.

Percentage of tax loss: 88 percent.

Sales Taxes:

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Politics
12:30 pm
Sat July 21, 2012

State study panel looking at cost, benefit of tax breaks

Repeated rounds of budget shortfalls have prompted lawmakers to take an in-depth look at the long list of tax breaks that siphon billions of dollars from Louisiana's treasury each year.

A 14-member study panel of legislative leaders Monday launches a six-month review of the $4.4 billion in tax exemptions, rebates and credits on the books.

For years, when state coffers were flush, tax break bills sailed through the Louisiana Legislature. But with the economy struggling, Republicans and Democratic state lawmakers are questioning if they've been too generous.

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Higher Education
12:13 pm
Sat July 21, 2012

More criticism of ULL gay studies minor

Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills suggested Friday that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is drifting "into sexual politics."

The school's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies minor, which began in the spring, drew the ire of the Louisiana Family Forum last week as going against "Louisiana values."

Mills' email says ULL President Joseph Savoie is "fooling with fire" by allowing homosexual activists to influence university decision making, The Advocate reports. He urges the program's elimination.

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Budget Cuts
12:09 pm
Sat July 21, 2012

Nicholls State, Southeastern lay off workers

Nicholls State University and the University of Southeastern Louisiana are laying off employees.

Louisiana State University, though, says it will cut its budget without firing employees.

The state's public colleges and universities are absorbing a fifth round of budget cuts since 2008. In the new budget, higher education was cut by $66 million, bringing total cuts since 2008 to $420 million.

Southeastern, in Hammond, says it will lay off 36 faculty and staff members and eliminate 80 vacant positions. The university says it's cutting $13 million overall.

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