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Louisiana Family Forum Isn’t A Charity; It’s A Tax Shelter For The State’s Most Powerful Lobbyist

Lamar Parmentel:

More con-artists lobbyists.

Originally posted on CenLamar:

The Louisiana Family Forum is the most powerful and successful lobbying organization in a state brimming with lobbyists and special interests, and Gene Mills, its President, is arguably Louisiana’s single most powerful registered lobbyist.

Mills would likely not dispute this characterization. In a recent video statement to supporters, he claimed that 2014 was his organization’s most successful year ever, boasting that, during a debate about a bill pertaining to surrogacy, he presented the bill’s author with a list of “non-negotiable” demands that “were required in order for his bill to move forward.”

“The author,” Mills said, “blocked nine of those ten repairs and found out that when the LFF says, ‘It’s not negotiable, well, it’s not negotiable.'”

“LFF blocked bad bills, advanced good ones, and amended dozens of others to remove their threats,” Mills said. (emphasis added).

Even though he has never been elected to public office, Mills talks…

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The Funny Thing About Medicaid Expansion In The Deep South

Louisiana has been atwitter about the topic of Medicaid Expansion for years now. Ever since the passage of Obamacare (and the subsequent Supreme Court decision making expansion optional), states throughout the country have been slowly coming around the idea that expanding Medicaid is a good idea.

Most of the “blue” states have already expanded Medicaid, with a few notable exceptions (Florida, blue in ’08 and ’12, and Virginia)

This summer has been no exception. No fewer than 5 red states have been inquiring about how to submit to the horror that is the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion, including known liberal enclaves such as Wyoming and Tennessee.

A funny thing keeps happening though: As more states inquire, some of the places most in need of expansion continue to hold out. TPM explored this topic here:

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican powered to office in 2010 by the tea party wave, struck a deal with HHS last week to expand Medicaid. Indiana, led by Republican 2016 dark horse Gov. Mike Pence, is already negotiating with the administration on its own plan. Tennessee, a state like Wyoming where there’s no real Democratic threat to Republican dominance that would drive expansion talk, plans to submit a proposal for Medicaid expansion to HHS this fall.

Wyoming is perhaps the prototype for how Medicaid expansion might happen now that most of the easy states — either Democratic-led or with more moderate GOP leadership — have come around. It is a combination of selling conservative lawmakers on the financial benefits of expansion and crafting an alternative plan that is more palatable to conservative ideals in the 23 remaining states that have not yet accepted the expansion.

Yet, states most in need of the expansion seem to be holding pat. Where are these states? Why in the deep south, where the uninsured rate is among the highest in the nation:

A map of Medicaid expansion leaves out the five states that, at least by thestandard definition, comprise the Deep South. You can tack on two huge adjoining states — Florida and Texas — and go by the “original Confederate States” definition. Arkansas and Kentucky are the most Southern states so far to expand, and both are led by Democrats. GOP-led Tennessee is working on it.

In a June op-ed for Reuters, Lichtenstein used the South’s obstruction of Medicaid expansion as “Exhibit A” in his argument that the region was reverting to the “New South,” formerly the description of the period between the Civil War (or Reconstruction, more precisely) and civil rights.

“A ruling white caste (is) now putting in place policies likely to create a vast economic and social gap between most Southern states and those in the North, upper Midwest and Pacific region,” he wrote. “Of course, such regressive social policies… are supported by a fierce white partisanship.”

Among these deep south Governors fighting tooth-and-nail against Medicaid Expansion? Bobby Jindal, of course.

Oh, nothing to see here. Just a funny coincidence. States with historical racism are certainly not avoiding expansion just to withhold progress from lower-socioeconomic class minorities. Never.

A dupe or a liar? Jindal’s frivolous federal Common Core lawsuit

Lamar Parmentel:

WITH COMMON CORE BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST IT. WITH RACE TO THE TOP BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST IT. A PATTERN

Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 10.06.58 PM

By Robert Mann

If there was ever a politically motivated, frivolous lawsuit, it would be the thinly veiled campaign document that Gov. Bobby Jindal filed in federal court on Wednesday, alleging that the federal government coerced states like Louisiana to participate in Common Core.

In his suit, Jindal seems to say that he and other governors were forced by President Obama to apply for federal funds and join a national consortium, all of which supported the implementation of the Common Core standards in their states.

“In short, through regulatory and rule making authority, Defendants [the federal government] have constructed a scheme that effectively forces States down a path toward a national curriculum by requiring, as a condition of funding under the President’s Race to the Top programs, that States join ‘consortia of states’ and agree to adopt a common set of content standards and to implement the assessment protocols and policies created by that consortium, all under…

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LouisianaVoice learns of Jindal plan to force state retirees out of OGB by raising members’ premiums, cutting benefits

Originally posted on Louisiana Voice:

Remember less than two weeks ago (Aug. 14, to be precise) we wrote that members of the Louisiana Office of Group Benefits (OGB) should prepare themselves for health insurance premium sticker shock? http://louisianavoice.com/2014/08/14/nichols-pens-op-ed-on-soundness-of-ogb-even-as-legislative-fiscal-office-prepares-members-for-premium-sticker-shock/

Well, LouisianaVoice has obtained new information that indicates we weren’t entirely accurate in our portrayal of what’s in store for some 230,000 state employees, retirees and their dependents.

The reality is much worse.

Much worse indeed, particularly for state retirees.

To recap briefly, we told you in that Aug. 14 posting about the report of the Legislative Fiscal Office on pending major changes in medical coverage for state employees and retirees. Some of those anticipated changes provided in the Legislative Fiscal Officer Report, authored by Legislative Fiscal Officer John Carpenter and Legislative Fiscal Office Section Director J. Travis McIlwain, include:

  • An increase in premiums state employees and retirees pay for health coverage;
  • Significantly increase the out-of-pocket maximum…

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Standardized Lying

Originally posted on Crazy Crawfish's Blog:

Student performance in Louisiana is dropping rapidly. The decline started just about the time John White became superintendent of Education and has accelerated rapidly with the introduction of Common Core in Louisiana schools. Based on a sample analysis of the very meager data LDOE finally released under threat of lawsuit it is clear that not only is student performance not increasing or staying steady, it Is in fact declining, and being masked by a lowering of the number of correct answers required to pass LEAP and iLEAP tests. Please refer to this post by Mike Deshotels and the analysis provided by Herb Bassett for the details. Below is an excerpt from Mike’s blog.

Here is the table supplied by the LDOE as a result of my public records request:

    scores

Notice that for 4th grade ELA, 4th grade Math, and 8th grade Math, there was a significant lowering of the…

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#CommunistCore LIVES!

from the Advocate

The worst possible picture of each of these three gents. Thanks to the Advocate for this one.

So far, the forces of righteous freedom have failed to convince any court that #CommunistCore is a threat to humanity. According to the Advocate, the Jindal Admin’s “suspension” is gone and the horrid hellscape of high standards currently torturing our children will continue for the time being:

District Judge Todd Hernandez cautioned that the judicial branch should “rarely, if ever” enjoin the executive branch of government, but said the evidence he heard in the case Monday left him with no other choice.

“As it stands in Louisiana today, according to the law, students in the fourth grade will take some form of high-stakes leap test at the end of the 2014-2015 fourth-grade school year and each of these students must perform to a certain standard in order to be promoted to the next grade,” the judge wrote.

“However, the evidence presented at the hearing of this matter proves that the content of these assessment tests to be issued to these students as well as the materials needed for teachers to prepare these students for these tests are unknown; therefore, the evidence is clear that this state of the unknown has caused anxiety and other harm to the parents, teachers, administrators and students in Louisiana,” he said.

“Plaintiff’s harm is time and the loss thereof. The loss of time is irreparable.”

Oh, but what about da children!

New ‘Friends of’ web page leads to speculation of PSC member Scott Angelle’s entry into 2015 governor’s race

Lamar Parmentel:

Oh, so what do we have here?

Originally posted on Louisiana Voice:

Does Scott Angelle have his eye on the 2015 governor’s race?

The Public Service Commissioner, Democrat-turned-Republican, former interim lieutenant governor, erstwhile Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and one time member of the LSU Board of Supervisors would seem to be rounding out his resumé while carefully moving up the pecking order in Louisiana politics.

The governor’s race isn’t until 2015 and Angelle isn’t up for re-election to a new six-year on the PSC from the Second District until 2018. He was first elected in 2012 to succeed Jimmy Fields who retired after 16 years.

But an Internet web page created by an outfit calling itself Friends of Scott Angelle and apparently chaired by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s favorite fundraiser Allee Bautsch certainly looks like that of a candidate considering his options for higher office as opposed to that of one running for re-election to the PSC this far out. In other…

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Con-men Fall For Easy Con: Jindal Efficiency Effort Now $3m More Expensive

You’d like professional con men like those situated in all facets of the Jindal experience would be able to spot one of their own. In fact, we see, they cannot.

We might remember back last winter when Bobby Jindal announced that he would hire an “efficiency expert” to find more savings in state government. The cost was reported to be $4 million, to which many legislators responded that they immediately found $4m in savings. 

Nevertheless, in the parody-upon-parody that is the Jindal Administration, the “efficiency experts” have now needed their own contracts extended, almost doubling their original cost. Efficiency!

The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.

The contract for Alvarez & Marsal was worth $4.2 million when the New York-based company was hired in December. But the contract since has been bumped up to $7.4 million, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office.

 

They claim they have found over $2 billion in cost savings. Unfortunately, many of the departments they’ve visited have responded that their ideas are either obvious or impossible to implement. For example, one of their brilliant ideas is selling advertising on the side of state property. Like Nascar.

But in this topsy-turvey world, up is down, left is right, and efficiency efforts cost twice as much as planned.

If You Want to Hide Something From Bobby Jindal, Put It In a Law Book

Lamar Parmentel:

LAMAR SMASH

Originally posted on CenLamar:

In the late 1950s, Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long once said that the state’s attorney general didn’t know the difference between a jumpsuit and a lawsuit. “If you want to hide something from Jack Gremillion,” he said, “put it in a law book.”

Compared to the current Governor of Louisiana, Uncle Earl would probably have to admit that old Jack Gremillion seems like a legal genius. After more than six years as a tenant of the fourth floor in the House That Huey Built, Bobby Jindal is now the least popular Governor in contemporary Louisiana history and one of the least popular elected officials in the entire country. According to the most recent polling, Jindal is approved by only 32% of Louisiana voters. If he ran for President, he’d lose Louisiana to Hillary Clinton. And in a hypothetical race for Governor against Edwin Edwards, Jindal would get trounced. “Bobby Jindal…

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Boring Old PAR Louisiana Fires Snarkbomb at BJ

Apparently, the boring bean counters at the Public Affairs Research council are having a nerd riot over Bobby Jindal’s common core cowardice. Here is their commentary:

Leadership and Crisis in Education

In the fight over Common Core, Louisiana state government is failing its citizens and the governor is chiefly responsible

Louisiana state government is failing its duty to provide leadership and accountability for public school education in the upcoming academic year. The situation has reached a crisis level with serious potential consequences for students, parents, teachers and all of us as stakeholders in the future of Louisiana. This was a crisis of choice and the clearest responsibility for it lies with the governor. 

The current dispute between the governor on one side and the state education board on the other is on the verge of rendering a dysfunctional process to administer accountability tests to students this school year. This mess is potentially significant enough to damage the national profile of the state.
The dispute is centered on differing views of whether the state should implement the Common Core standards, a path decided by laws signed by the governor as well as policy set by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The governor’s actions so far appear to be an attempt to thwart the law and the Common Core implementation by creating a bureaucratic contest over state procurement practices and contracting law.
Fortunately, many solutions are available to address the immediate concerns of implementing accountability tests, which have been central to the state’s progress on key educational measures in recent years. The assessments could be handled in-house by the education agency, by adjusting the current contract for the next year or by a new contract competitively bid. Members of the state education board have proposed several worthwhile solutions.
Though time is short, competitive contracting is a good policy principle that still could be employed in the current circumstance. The administration and its bureaucrats should carry on their role to review state contracts to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the procurement process and to meet the state’s legal requirements. But those bureaucrats, with the governor influencing their every move, should not be in the business of using that process to determine the state’s education policy and academic standards. That domain belongs to BESE and the Department of Education.
The governor and his administration have been inconsistent on public contracting. After years of reviewing and approving Department of Education testing contracts, only now has the administration raised serious concerns about them. If the past contracting methods were faulty, the administration as well as the education agencies bear a responsibility. Although the governor now insists that competitive bids be used for a testing contract, he has endorsed no-bid contracts for major initiatives he has favored. His sudden zeal for competitive bidding is welcome but apparently is selective.
From cutting-edge supporter to virulent enemy of Common Core, the governor’s inconsistent path on educational standards is becoming the defining issue of his gubernatorial and leadership legacy. The governor’s change in stance began with ambiguous statements about his commitment to the new standards, which he helped birth. Only a year ago he was pushing hard for faster implementation of Common Core, and yet now he shows intolerance for those who want to proceed with Common Core even slowly. When he decided to oppose the standards, he made a limp effort during the recent legislative session and proved to be a weak ally of his fellow Common Core critics. The Legislature rebuffed efforts to change the law in the direction he wanted it to go. Now the governor is on the presidential campaign trail loudly attacking Louisiana and its consensus implementation of Common Core.
Anyone can change his mind, but Jindal’s oscillation on this issue combined with his apparent political calculations are affecting his image as a sincere and reliable leader here in Louisiana. Years of work brought us to the point where the state is ready to start a new set of standards, a process the governor until recently sought to accelerate. The current problem – finding a way to conduct assessments for the next academic year – was in no way created by the federal government. This is a fully state-created crisis. The governor has the main responsibility for creating this crisis and a failure of the system would be on his shoulders.
The governor should not use his bureaucracies for harassment and ultimately allow bureaucrats to make policy decisions that are clearly and rightly delegated to state education leaders and the Legislature under Louisiana’s constitution and statutes. The governor regularly criticizes the federal government for this type of executive over-reach.
The governor’s new opinion on Common Core is his business and his right, even though his opinion is not consistent with the laws he endorsed and signed into effect. It is unfortunate that the governor is traveling the nation criticizing his state on this issue. But his potential use of executive over-reach and bureaucratic interference to stop Common Core is a more serious matter and would be damaging and punitive to schools and taxpayers.
If the governor wants to persuade the state to take a new direction on educational standards, then he should use a good, foundational democratic decision-making process to do that. If he forces the state in that direction with disruption and interference, then he lets slip the state’s steep climb out of its past era of autocratic rule. Is this demonstration of leadership an indication what kind of president he would be?
For now, the governor has the opportunity to address the immediate problem of student academic assessments by demonstrating he has the skills to work with others and to allow Louisiana’s government to proceed with implementing state law and policy in a proper legal manner. In doing so, he could more likely be seen as a leader worthy of high office and not just a political candidate who blows with the latest wind.
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