It turns out that former Gov. Bobby
Jindal had it right. Now if only Louisiana’s current Gov. John Bel Edwards would
Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice gigged
the state for excessive institutionalization of mentally ill individuals. A
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
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.
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.
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.