state government

With all the sleet and freezing rain that seized up our brains in the past week, it would be easy to forget that in the midst of the first sneaux day last Friday, the Jindal administration presented its budget proposal. The budget is approximately $25 billion. And that’s about $600 million less than the spending for the current fiscal year.

State government offices in 56 parishes will be shuttered Tuesday due to the winter storm forecasted to spread snow, sleet and freezing rain across much of Louisiana.

There are 64 parishes in Louisiana.

The announcement by state Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols cited expected power outages and dangerous driving conditions in the decision to close the offices in the following parishes: 

A total of 173 state employees have been laid off in the first two months of the fiscal year that started July 1.

Lindsay Ruiz de Chavez, with the state Department of Civil Service, tells The Times-Picayune that the latest figures show that from July 1, 2008, to Aug. 31 of this year, 2,373 jobs have been abolished.

In the first two months of the present fiscal year, 448 job positions have been abolished, including positions that were vacant.

The Louisiana attorney general's office says a Jindal administration plan to hire a private company to manage a state employee health insurance plan requires legislative approval.

In a legal opinion issued Friday, Assistant Attorney General Michael Vallan said the proposed contract between the Office of Group Benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield "is subject to review and final approval" by the legislative committees that have jurisdiction over similar matters.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's chief budget aide says he wants to hire a private company to advise him on the best way to collect more than $1 billion owed to state government.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater tells The Advocate the unpaid bills include medical services, college tuition installment payments, environmental quality monitoring and other expenses.

With state government struggling to pay its own bills during the economic downturn, state officials are pressing the governor to get aggressive about the debts.

Because of Hurricane Isaac, state government offices will be closed throughout Louisiana on Wednesday.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said officials are watching the progress of the storm and may make further announcements about office closings.

State government offices across 22 parishes will shut down Tuesday and Wednesday because of Tropical Storm Isaac, expected to grow into a hurricane.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater on Monday announced the closures, which cover parishes in the tropical storm warning, hurricane watch and hurricane warning areas.

Despite efforts to shrink the number of Louisiana's governing boards and commissions, the total of such panels is higher now than when Gov. Bobby Jindal took office in 2008.

That's according to a review by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's office released this week.

The auditor's report says as of June 2012, the state had 492 boards and commissions created by law or executive order. That compares to 484 such panels in 2008. The high point was in 2004, when 513 boards and commissions were on the books.

Privatization of state agency yields early savings

Jul 24, 2012

Legislative auditors say a contract with a private company based in Mandeville to privatize and run much of the claims processing and management handled by the state's Office of Risk Management has been producing results ahead of schedules.

Emily Wilson, a performance audit manager for the state's legislative auditor's office, said Monday that F.A. Richard and Associates Inc. saved Louisiana a net amount of $1.4 million in the 2011 fiscal year.

State officials are looking at ways to beef up efforts to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in debts owed to agencies across Louisiana government.

Louisiana doesn't have a centralized collection agency that handles all state government debts.

Lawmakers authorized the creation of a two-year pilot program that would let the state sell or auction off long-term delinquent accounts to companies that believe they can collect some of the money owed.