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No matter where, pork shouldn't prevail

It depends on which side of the Red River you live whether it’s legal. But, regardless of whether a river runs through it, it’s unethical.

Tomorrow, the Shreveport City Council will try to find a way to evade the city’s charter. Prompted by Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkinsno stranger to trying to sidestep the law in various ways such as spending city tax dollars on his inauguration, double-billing on his automobile usage, and city appointments – the Council had budgeted in 2021 to give each of its seven members authority to direct $250,000 for road work in their districts. Sec. 4.32 flat out prohibits this, which begs the question whether the Perkins Administration or councilors and staff even bothered to read the charter.

With plenty of winks and nods, Republican Councilor James Flurry will try to salvage the deal by shuttling funds to the city’s Office of Community Development – which has authority over workforce development, business development, affordable housing and improvements, homelessness, public services, public facilities, and program funding for federal grants but not roads – and have him and his colleagues “pick up the phone and [ask] ‘Say can you do this? Can you help us on this? I have a need.’ And they come up with the funds. But this time we'll have our own funds there.”


Lawmaker ignorance subverts good care policy

If you’re going to make bad policy, at least know what you’re talking about, a lesson that Republican state Rep. Larry Bagley needs to learn.

This week, the Louisiana Legislature’s Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee had one of its occasional meetings to review matters of interest. One concerned a rule change that would shovel over $5 million more to nursing homes that would convert more rooms to single occupancy even though it would appear this would not reduce the overgenerous compensation these providers receive,  nor discourage payment for excess licensed beds in a system that disproportionately sends Medicaid clients to nursing homes instead of almost-always less expensive home- and community-based care.

The counter-intuitiveness of the change hasn’t fazed key legislators who could trigger a review and its potential veto, leading them to scramble in justifying it. This includes Bagley, who has attempted to fend off criticism of it, which equates to criticism of him, for as chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee he could have called his committee to meet by the end of the week to vet the change.


LA finally gets rural broadband right -- for now

This is how you do rural broadband right – if you can keep it.

After over a decade of false starts, it appears over the next decade Louisiana will start filling in the rural broadband gaps. Award notices from the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund went out, with Louisiana picking up over $342 million worth of services intended to reach over 175,000 addresses in areas currently unserved by broadband.

Twice the state has attempted to obtain federal dollars to expand the provision, off of initiatives from the Democrat former Pres. Barack Obama Administration. Twice it wisely abandoned the efforts because of the strangulation of red tape and concentration on achieving political objectives at the expense of service provision.


New name doesn't change need to sell BC arena

The first step is to rename Bossier City’s CenturyLink Center Drive and the city’s CenturyLink Center Arena Special Revenue Fund. The next is to sell the renamed Brookshire Grocery Arena.

Under whatever name, the two-decades-old arena near the foot of the Jimmie Davis Bridge consistently has lost money. Its siting in open space closer to residential areas than any commercial activity, much less the kind that could leverage off the facility such as entertainment establishments, with somewhat constricted road access came for political, not economic, reasons that might otherwise have caused its building around the Interstate 20/220 intersection by Louisiana Downs.

Emergence of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic illuminated even more brightly its white elephant status. With essentially no activity occurring in the arena for most of the year and perhaps several months into 2021, its deficit grew so large that the city last month the City Council swiped $500,000 – nearly the entire ending 2019 Disaster Relief Fund balance – to pay off 2020 property taxes on the structure and the first two months of 2021 (non)operating expenses. (Whether the legal restrictions that came with the grant of that money would permit such use is another matter.)


Edwards, legislators squander Medicaid dollars

It’s bad enough that both Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana’s Republican legislative leaders have adopted as their main fiscal strategy pennies from heaven. It’s unconscionable that they have to make matters worse for taxpayers and the infirm on top of that.

Rather than start the long overdue paring of state government, imperative more than ever with revenue shortfalls courtesy of Edwards mandates in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Edwards and GOP leaders just cross their fingers and hope money rains down on the state from federal taxpayers to stave off a huge budget deficit, looming perhaps as soon as early next year. The last thing they need to do in this environment is to aggravate matters with extra needless, if not counterproductive, spending.

But that’s exactly what they seem poised to do. This fall, the Department of Health issued a rule revision that would shovel more money to nursing homes paid through Medicaid. The latest data indicate that Medicaid covers about four-fifths of state nursing home residents, which means, since typically other payment sources are charged higher rates, that around three-quarters of industry revenues come from taxpayers. All in all, state taxpayers funnel around $1.2 billion yearly into nursing home operators’ pockets.