Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Louisiana, because Bobby J’s crackpot voucher scheme just took a death blow from the Louisiana Supreme Court. By a vote of 6-1, the Supreme Court invalidated the voucher payment plan, citing the fact that using MFP funds to pay private school tuition was unconstitutional. Read more:
The key issue is whether the source of public school aid — it is called the Minimum Foundation Program, called MFP — can be used to pay for vouchers, which finance tuition and some mandatory fees.
The ruling struck down the MFP funding mechanism that the Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly approved last year.
State Superintendent of Education John White said earlier that the voucher aid alone costs about $22 million per year.
The state is facing a $1.3 billion shortfall for the upcoming financial year to maintain aid for state services at current levels.
White has said he is confident that, even if vouchers were struck down, state officials would find a way to continue the aid.
He did not spell out specifics. White is in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
The ruling said: “We agree with the district court that once funds are dedicated to the state’s Minimum Foundation Program for public education, the constitution prohibits those funds from being expended on the tuition costs of nonpublic schools and nonpublic entities.”
Johnny WHITE is surfing his CV for some new gigs. This ship is going way, way down.
Voucher-proponents are rightly dumbfounded, but insist the state will continue to pay for them. With a $1.3 state budget deficit, you can bet that ain’t going to happen.
Voucher oucher indeed.
Stu Rothenberg over at Roll Call explains Mary Landrieu’s [correct] vote on background checks:
Landrieu always depends on a huge turnout in the black community and a near sweep of the black vote to win election, and voting against the president on guns might have poisoned her relationship with that community. And if Mary loses black voters, Mary can’t win.
In 2008, according to exit polling in the Senate contest, when she last stood for re-election, Landrieu won 96 percent of the black vote to 2 percent for Republican John Kennedy, the state treasurer. Interestingly, Landrieu received a larger percentage of the black vote in Louisiana than did Barack Obama (94 percent), according to the presidential exit poll.
Landrieu lost white voters to Kennedy, 65 percent to 33 percent, but she easily outperformed Obama that year among whites, since he carried just 14 percent of white voters in the state in his White House bid.
Landrieu ended up winning with 52 percent statewide, while Obama drew only 40 percent of the vote in the Pelican State.
Obviously, Landrieu needs to hit certain percentages of both black and white votes to win, but if politics starts with base voters, Landrieu knows which voters she can’t afford to lose during her 2014 re-election bid. She must have a huge black turnout, and she must win almost unanimous support in that community. Her support in the white community, after all, is not likely to increase between 2008 and 2014.
Of course, if Mayor Bloomberg is going to play in #LASEN 2014, this vote is definitely going to help. Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s political chief, lays it plainly here:
By Robert Mann
Forcing Gov. Bobby Jindal to abandon his ill-advised, half-baked tax swap must have been liberating for those Louisiana legislators who have long lived in fear of the petulant governor and his vindictive staff.
Of course, their sudden rush of independence may have less to do with courage and more to do with Jindal’s job approval rating – currently wheels up in the ditch at a dismal 38 percent.
According to informed sources, (that’s everyone with a pulse), Bobby Jindals SIGNATURE TAX SCHEME is not going forward. The bill must
originate in the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee, and that body’s Chairman Joel Robideaux put out this statement this morning:
“Over the last several months we have all grappled with the issues involved when considering the repeal of the income tax…I have reviewed the analysis of the policy community…my preference is that we should indefinitely defer consideration of these bills.”
CB Forgotston, who originated the dead-or-alive clock on the tax swap, isn’t convinced:
Today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal finally admitted, for the very first time, that the controversial Louisiana Science Education Act, which he signed into law during his first year in office, was designed and intended to allow public schools the ability to teach creationism as legitimate scientific theory.
Jindal made his comments to NBC News correspondent Hoda Kotb, during tail end of an interview at the Education Nation conference in New Orleans.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s office announced today that Bruce Greenstein has resigned as secretary of the Dept. of Health and Hospitals during federal and state investigations of a controversial Medicaid contract.
The Jindal administration canceled the nearly $200 million Medicaid contract with CNSI after word of a federal grand jury probe came out.
Greenstein used to work for the Maryland-based company. Greenstein denied having anything to do with CNSI’s choice when they were selected two years ago. He did acknowledge that a change he pushed in the bid solicitation made CNSI eligible.
I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't feeling overwhelmed by all the rapid changes happening in the education sphere. I'm positive I'm not alone in feeling this way - based on the feedback, articles and correspondence I've been receiving from local and national groups and individuals. As I struggled to zero in on a topic where I could help or enlighten the most, something else even more screwed up would be sent to me.
BoJind has made a terrible set of mistakes. Unconstitutional legislation. Federal investigations. Sinkholes. Higher education
chaos. These ships have all sailed. He probably do much to change these disasters. But there is one thing he can do to transform Louisiana for the better.
Dont’ take our word for it.
Expanding health services to Louisiana’s working poor is not a gift, as the state eventually would have to put up some money to match federal Medicaid grants. But it’s a deal worth taking, and we urge Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature to take up the offer. Ultimately, the state has no other solution in view for the problems of the uninsured who are working in low-wage jobs.
With the high rates of diabetes and other chronic but treatable conditions in Louisiana, the broader access to basic health care could save lives. That alone is reason to participate.
The expansion makes sense fiscally as well. For the first three years of the program, 2014 through 2016, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of covering people whose income is 133 percent of the poverty level. After that, Louisiana would have to pay a small percentage — which at most would be 10 percent in 2020 and beyond. Kaiser estimates that the cost for Louisiana would be about $1 billion over 10 years.
The Jindal administration has argued that even 10 percent is too much of a burden. That is absurd, particularly given how many people could be helped with that small investment by the state.
Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures will eventually decide to expand Medicaid in their states because the financial benefits are too big to ignore, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with USA Today. “It not only would bring more people into the health care system, but it would dramatically reduce unpaid medical costs,” Sebelius said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview on the third anniversary of the 2010 health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says Louisiana is not going to accept the federal dollars available in the expanded Medicaid program because health insurance is better handled by private business. The question is: Better for whom? The governor is obviously not talking about 400,000 Louisiana residents who are unable to afford private health insurance but would be able to get health insurance through the expansion. He cannot be referring to Louisiana taxpayers. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation makes the point that Louisiana is turning down $15.8 billion in federal funding in order to save $1.2 billion over 10 years. And we Louisiana taxpayers are going to have to pay for the federal Medicaid expansion whether our state participates or not. Our share of the money that pays for this program will be used to support the Medicaid expansion in other states and, meanwhile, our low-income residents will continue to lack access to care. So who is he talking about?
We urge the Legislature to address this issue as they take up budget matters this spring. Meanwhile, we join the grassroots groups, the statesmen and civic leaders around the state who are raising the cry to Jindal to take the Medicaid expansion money.
But if Louisiana follows through on the governor’s threat to reject the Medicaid expansion, the need for uncompensated care will continue to rise, increasing the financial strains on the system and raising the cost of private coverage as hospitals and doctors try to recover their costs. Meanwhile, the injection of billions in new federal dollars will be a boost to Louisiana’s economy, in much the same way that federal dollars helped the state’s economy recover from Hurricane Katrina. The money will help both directly – by creating jobs in the health care sector – and indirectly, by supporting jobs that provide goods and services to the health-care industry.
David Hood was secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals under Republican former Gov. Mike Foster. Fred Cerise was DHH secretary under Democratic former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The two men were featured in a newspaper ad published in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate newspaper calling the Medicaid expansion a good deal for Louisiana. “Medicaid expansion offers a path to regular access to healthcare for working adults,” the ad says. Hood and Cerise said the inclusion of up to 400,000 uninsured people in the government-run insurance program would improve people’s health, be a good financial deal for the state and help Louisiana’s healthcare delivery system.
This notion of high costs is illogical, as the federal government will be picking up the full tab for the first three years. And even after that, the cost is negligible, with each state paying just 10 percent of the cost. And as an added slap in the face, if Louisiana does not participate, the portion of the federal money that pays for the program will be used to support the Medicaid expansion in other states. What I don’t get, however, is why Jindal would want to burden Louisiana employers, especially given our tepid economic conditions. Instead of accepting the expansion program, Jindal is opting for a program that gives residents between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty line access to healthcare through the state’s new insurance exchanges. This is where the huge cost from employers comes into play. Individuals would now qualify for premium assistance tax credits. As a result, employers with more than 50 workers would be assessed fees for each employee in that group who received these credits.
We would encourage Gov. Jindal to keep an open mind and to examine his fellow governors’ motivations for their 180-degree turns. The federal government would fund 100 percent of the expanded program for the first three years. After that, the amount would decrease incrementally for 10 years. And that would mean between $15 billion and $25 billion flowing into Louisiana for health care, depending on whose numbers you use.
From the multitude of Louisiana non-profits and advocacy groups (you can sign here too), LaMediciadExpansion.org:
The organizations and individuals listed below believe that Medicaid expansion is the right choice for Louisiana and urge you to reconsider your decision to reject this unprecedented opportunity to improve public health and grow the state’s economy. Medicaid expansion could provide health coverage to 400,000 Louisianans, most of whom are currently uninsured, and bring in billions of new federal dollars. It will benefit Louisiana’s families, businesses, health care providers and the economy—all at little cost to the state budget.
BoJind, there’s only one way to salvation. No amount of exorcisms will be able to expel the demons from your legacy if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to save lives and improve our future.
The Louisiana Budget Project breaks down the meat of the Governor’s Sales Tax Swap proposal:
By David Gray
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate Louisiana’s corporate and personal income taxes relies on a fundamentally flawed economic analysis and is likely to hurt the state’s economy, not boost it as supporters claim. Proponents of the governor’s proposal are relying on a report called “Rich States, Poor States” to sell their plan to the public. But the report contains numerous distortions and omissions:
- While it claims that 62 percent of net U.S. job growth between 2002 and 2012 occurred in nine states with no income taxes, it fails to note that just one of those states, Texas, accounted for most of that job growth. The remaining eight states did not significantly differ from the rest of the country in job creation.
- The report fails to mention that Texas’ performance is largely due to factors unrelated to taxes, like its abundance of natural resources and geographic location along the trade-rich Mexican border.
- States with income taxes that are higher than Louisiana’s perform better on several important economic and quality-of-life indicators than their no-income-tax counterparts. For example, those states have greater median household incomes, higher household disposable incomes and more widespread health insurance coverage –none of which should be true if taxes were a primary factor in economic activity and well-being.
- State income taxes play a negligible role in business location and hiring decisions. Doing away with them will simply drain more resources from schools, health care, public safety and the other foundations of a strong economy, which are much more important to businesses looking to expand or relocate. The vast majority of the governor’s tax plan would benefit less than 2 percent of Louisiana’s companies, according to an analysis of tax information published by the Louisiana Department of Revenue. The overwhelming majority of small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs are unlikely to experience any tax savings. The windfall for those that do see savings is likely to be too small to allow more hiring or investments. In any case, there is no evidence that businesses add jobs because of income tax cuts. Furthermore, substantially increased sales taxes – which the governor would use to recoup revenue losses under his plan – are likely to reduce demand for goods, which would reduce production. Instead of eliminating income taxes and levying the highest sales taxes in the nation, the task for Louisiana’s elected officials is to seek ways to raise revenues beyond current levels and invest in public services like education, health care, transportation and public safety. These investments have a far greater potential to build the state’s economy and improve prosperity and well-being than the proposed income tax breaks.