Search This Blog


Edwards must emulate Jindal mental health care move

It turns out that former Gov. Bobby Jindal had it right. Now if only Louisiana’s current Gov. John Bel Edwards would follow through.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice gigged the state for excessive institutionalization of mentally ill individuals. A letter to Edwards noted that Louisiana maintained too few options to treat such individuals in the community rather than in hospitals or nursing homes. Moreover, the document noted that unless the state came to some kind of agreement that began expanding community placements at the expense of institutionalization, the federal government would pursue legal action.

The problem begins with Louisiana having too many nursing home beds. Historically, public policy has favored nursing home interests, to the absurd point now that the state pays tens of millions of dollars annually to maintain empty beds in private facilities. This has given the state one of the highest per capita number of beds in the country, ranking fourth highest among the states (2014 data) and thereby diverts dollars that could go to home- and community-based programs.


LA policy should encourage buying flood insurance

Reaction to a provision in the recovery action plan for 2016 in Louisiana highlights the moral hazard involved in disaster relief, and suggests how the state can reduce that by judicious future policy-making.

Through next Tuesday public comment remains open regarding the Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration plan to deal with the flooding that occurred mainly in northern part of the state in the spring and in the southern part in the summer. As the funding for relief comes not in the typical fashion – instead of through the Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Administration rather by way of a Community Development Block Grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development – the state must develop a plan according to HUD rules and solicit for two weeks’ commentary from the public. This approach also makes likely much higher payouts per home than through the standard FEMA use of the DRF.

As far as distribution eligibility, HUD has few rules, but given what state policy-makers consider a low amount appropriated for the size of the disaster in the first tranche of money, it established additional rules that it plans to submit to HUD. One is that aid will go only to those individuals who live outside the 100-year flood plain; that is, the area in question has a less than one percent chance of flooding in any given year. This rule has riled some who lived in such areas but declined purchasing insurance, who now must hope the second and any later tranches include them.


Reform LA higher education before frisking taxpayers

You can whine about a problem or get busy trying to solve it. Louisiana State University’s leadership prefers the former approach while some students affected by reductions in Taylor Opportunity Program for Students awards have opted for the latter.

When appearing earlier this month in front of the House Appropriations Committee as part of its budget vetting, System Pres. F. King Alexander moaned about how that cut, which causes in the case of LSU a couple of thousand fewer dollars made available for each student to pay his tuition, might discourage LSU students in the spring. He used this as another example to argue that taxpayers must fork over more to higher education, who collectively want $100 million more in general fund money and $89 million put into TOPS to allow it to pay at 100 percent again.

That view ignores the facts that, when considering the per capita income of Louisiana and its relative ranking to other states (34th), its average tuition and fees for senior institution (29th – but this doesn’t include TOPS that would lower its placement several positions even if less than half-funded), and state support per full-time enrollee (33rd), these balance pretty well. While taxpayer ability to pay seems fairly maximized, if anything students could pay more.


Christmas Day, 2016

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday after noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Sunday, Dec. 25 being Christmas Day, I invite you to explore this link.