One reason why Louisiana struggles to provide efficient services, where the failure to do so retards economic development and shortchanges overall service provision, is that certain policy-makers prefer to protect government and special interests before people.
One such dinosaur is state Sen. Francis Thompson, famous for such abuses of taxpayers’ trust as getting the state to spend tens of millions of dollars to build a reservoir for which his brother was convicted for corrupt activities surrounding it, trying to add fees to milk to facilitate oversupply in the milk production industry, and forcing fuel consumers to send subsidies to ethanol producers. Now he’s whining about trying to save taxpayers more than $8 million without any deterioration in government service provision.
Earlier this year, and confirmed with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presentation of his budget, the state plans to close 31 state government-run community homes for the developmentally disabled focusing on residents who cope with what used to be called mental retardation. This would result in the relocation, mostly to homes not run by government, of about 155 clients at a savings of about $57,000 annually each – more than enough to pay for an additional client currently without services to receive services through a waiver program for every current client transferring out of a state-run home. These non-government homes, many in existence for decades, are fully authorized by the state for this kind of care and also are by the federal government, allowing Medicaid to pay for services.
Yet this seems to be a problem with Thompson. In the Senate’s Finance Committee, he complained about why this is happening now and insinuated cost savings was the only reason, to the detriment of clients. He also indirectly took a slap at the non-government providers, implying through his saying that the state used to hold out state-run homes as ideal institutions so therefore somehow other providers come up short.
Of course, as is typical with Thompson, it was hard to find any logic in his meanderings. On the one hand, he seems to believe that government provision in this is superior – why else bring up cost savings as an issue, implying that reduced costs meant reduced service? Yet on the other hand, he is questioning the same administrative structure that runs the houses currently. So how is it that the same agency that performs this task so well in caring for clients in his eyes is now accused of selling them out for lucre? Which is it – government provision and oversight is good or bad?
If Thompson is arguing that other providers can’t do as well as the state in this area, he needs to say it and defend that accusation. If he doesn’t, that provides a clue to his real motivation in questioning the move – the fact that state government will be smaller as a result. Some of the homes are in his district and these are state employees who will be out of government work – jobs that Thompson can claim he helps maintain.
The Jindal Administration’s plans on this issue will save the state money, provide more services to those who need them, and hardly disrupt the lives of those being transferred from state-run to non-government community homes. Why Thompson seems perturbed by this only can be explained in that he’d rather protect big government than serve the disabled or taxpayers.