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Senate's symbolic move leaves contracting unaffected

What may seem to be an interesting and coming potential conflict between the state Senate and the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration on paper in reality became conjured for reasons of image burnishing that changes nothing else.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed SR 28 by state Sen. Edwin Murray. The resolution, which is a kind of legal instrument that only may express the will of the body or may signal approval of an act where legally the body may intervene, states that, in regards to specific hospital management contracts, that before the state may enter into them any such contract “shall require the approval of the Senate Committee on Finance.” The state has agreed to contract out this management for most of its public hospitals currently run by the Louisiana State University System.

The resolution argues the Senate should do this because legislative approval is needed to close an emergency room or to reduce expenditures of a hospital more than 35 percent, and that Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell recently issued an “opinion of the attorney general [that] does not address whether the lease of an entire state hospital facility to a private entity constitutes the closure of the publicly owned hospital facility.” But this tortured logic ignores both statute and the opinion (13-0034).


Data help LA education reform supporters stand firm

Count on opponents of education reform from last year in Louisiana making a run at the restoration of their power and privilege. Those wishing to protect those policy advances should pay attention to the data that ratifies their position and be ready to respond.

Regardless of whether this legislation is overturned by the courts on technicalities, as may happen in the next few months, several bills in this year’s session have been filed to dilute reform measures’ impacts and will be pushed. And if reform laws are overturned, parts of or even all of the measures may face votes again, where opponents will advance any argument, no matter how ludicrous or fact-impaired, in order to serve the special interests that have benefitted from the unreformed, underperforming system and now are threatened by reform.

But the poverty of their assertions will become more obvious as a result of data about the Recovery School District’s New Orleans charter schools in a National Journal piece. It reviews metrics since the hurricane disasters of 2005 and a couple of passages in particular are instructive:


Belated taxpayers concern obscures self-serving issue

While it's a fiscal-only session, legislators should think about efforts from past sessions that tried to reduce corporate welfare to the newspaper industry. The example of the Shreveport Times on this issue should remind again of the wastefulness and hypocrisy involved concerning it.

Although it should have seen this coming given controversy over accepting its higher bid in 2010 for fiscal year 2011, The Times got a bit of a rude shock two years ago when a couple of low-circulation weekly newspapers in Caddo Parish got the parish’s official journal business for 2012, worth tens of thousands of dollars of business annually, when they bid at 24 cents per agate line, 3 cents cheaper than The Times. That snub of the declining daily newspaper got repeated last year.

Then, this decision sent The Times into a bout of specious argumentation about how it was worth the extra money for being a daily paper with greater circulation, confusing the issue entirely in that it misunderstood the concept of an official journal was to provide access to government documents, not propagate them as widely as possible. It also, in a classic pot-meet-kettle moment, implicitly criticized the Parish Commission for using its power in a way it saw as an attempt to boost the small, locally-owned entities when it counted upon those same revenues to offset its steep recent decline in them and would have welcomed them for the identical reason of economic development.


Despite missed big chance, some LA tax reform possible

Contrary to what cinema might tell you, if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. Yesterday I laid out an uncomplicated plan to bring about beneficial tax reform that was politically possible. Today, at least one key legislator developed feet of clay and proclaimed that without legislator insistence he would not move bills towards this end, illustrating political possibility, strategic miscalculation, and the limits enforced by political culture.

House Ways and Means Chairman state Rep. Joel Robideaux made this announcement at its committee meeting that was supposed to vet most of the bills related to this. It’s a loss of nerve shared by others, and a missed opportunity by the state to improve the lot of its people.

It also means Gov. Bobby Jindal expended much to gain potentially little. The Jindal Administration did much spadework but misfired on one crucial element identified yesterday – simplicity – because of its own failure of nerve. The Administration from the start appeared extremely concerned to structure reform that did not make any lower income groups seem to pay more in taxes, thereby creating a complex system that achieved that end but obscured that because they made its administration more complicated.


Bills await providing politically possible, good tax reform

Gov. Bobby Jindal may not have gotten into public policy his version of tax reform, but he did make it into the one of the prime conversational items in this year’s session of the Louisiana Legislature. And now legislators seem cued to take it away in any of a number of directions, as they appear set to begin the discussion tomorrow. But which path would be the best?

With over two dozen proposals that do any or all of cutting of eliminating the corporate franchise tax, the corporate income tax, or the individual income tax, and raising the tobacco tax and the sales tax and/or extending its reach, and reducing tax exceptions, plus one renegade proposal to institute a statewide property tax dedicated to funding higher education, this menu demands sorting by best principles as revealed by research into economic behavior. And they are: