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24.9.15

CABL's shoddy analysis pushes sick tax onto people

Usually, the Council for a Better Louisiana makes solid policy recommendations. But sometimes it comes up with a clunker when the prejudices of the organization’s members come to the forefront, and such is the case with an item in its 2015 Election Agenda.


Among the various salutary ideas in this appears a real stinker, that in early 2016 the state should opt to institute a “sick tax” on users of health care in most state hospitals. A one percent assessment on these institutions’ net patient revenues (in most cases) will get passed along to consumers, causing rises not only in health care premiums they pay but also in taxes to support health care insurance made available to state employees.


This taking more of what people earn seems not to trouble CABL, which advocates for the trigger to be pulled that would have to happen prior to the end of the first quarter of 2016 by assent of the new governor and by the newly-constituted Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Instead, it justifies this new intrusion on liberty by painting a picture of financial desperation.

23.9.15

SOS challenger's agenda degrades elections

Defined more by candidate image in 2011, the 2015 contest for Louisiana’s Secretary of State finds itself notable for publicizing issues that would promote detrimental change to the state’s democratic health.



Current Republican Sec. of State Tom Schedler looks to keep the job after scraping by four years ago. Then, he faced outgoing House Speaker Jim Tucker, whose position gave the term-limited legislator extensive political capital and produced the most competitive race of that cycle. This time, none of his opponents have quite the resources Tucker brought to the challenge, but Schedler’s main competitor relies upon hawking a change in voter registration laws to convince the electorate to replace him.



Law professor Chris Tyson, a Democrat from a politically-connected family and environment who worked for former Sen. Mary Landrieu, criticizes Schedler mainly on two counts. First, he alleges that Schedler wastes funds on a lawsuit brought by the federal government, now four years in the running. Also, he argues that Louisiana ought to adopt same day voter registration, saying it would boost turnout as opposed to the current 30-day residency period required, claiming the state has high registration levels but relatively low turnout. He asserts that Schedler has resisted this change out of concerns of fraud Tyson dismisses.

22.9.15

Lt. gov. candidates offer little concerning office

As typical this time every four years, candidates for Louisiana’s lieutenant governorship emphasize to the public the high-profile things they’d like to make happen from their office – except that they can’t because the powers of it have nothing to do with the policies they promote. And, given what little of relevance they have had slip, it may be with this field that’s a good thing.

Last week, the four contenders for the most insignificant statewide office met at a forum to answer a variety of questions. At it, we learned that in order to combat crime against tourists that Jefferson Parish President John Young wanted an anti-crime unit placed in New Orleans’ Vieux CarrĂ©, that Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden suggested stationing plainclothes policemen there, and that state Sen. Elbert Guillory desired more police presence there. Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser went a step further by leaving out the executive branch entirely and instead blamed judges for going too easy on too many criminals.

Yes, the lieutenant governor oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, and the current occupant, in a cost-saving move, even dispensed with appointing a commissioner to run the thing and does so himself. But he has no power over crime enforcement, much less the judiciary.

21.9.15

Scorecard confirms wisdom of LA tuition hikes



Last week the federal government released its long-publicized College Scorecard, promoted multiple times by Louisiana State University System President F. King Alexander. While not all that it promised, it still gives an instructive read on the condition of Louisiana-based institutions of higher education.



The web site takes some basic facts about schools, which includes all that deliver higher education for which data were collected such as costs, graduation rates, and subsequent graduates’ salaries, and makes them available in various categories. For example, one could request a listing of all Louisiana senior institutions that are not for-profit, and for each the basic facts appear. Clicking on a specific school introduces more detailed information. However, unlike what once was touted, the system does not stamp a grade on the school, confining itself to information presentation.



Nonetheless, crude metrics can be developed to assess school quality on a comparative basis. A simple one can take three statistics – the “net price” per year (tuition and fees plus weighed living expenses minus typical financial aid), graduation rate (of non-transfer students), and median salary of graduates ten years after graduation (of those who accessed financial aid) – and can compute a measure of the salary divided by the price multiplied by the graduation rate to give a rough measure of quality. Presumably, better schools are those that produce higher salaries at lower pricing while graduating more students.