Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 10:28 am
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.
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.
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.
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.