While departments across the state are seeing steep cuts, the Department of Education has been getting more than it needs, according to accusations Wednesday in a House Appropriations Committee meeting.
Committee chairman Jim Fannin noted: year after year, the department has been allocated more money than it spent. In fiscal year 2012 the department's actual expenditures were $400 million dollars less than its $5.6 billion dollar operating budget.
Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La. (right), poses with his family and House Speaker John Boehner at the start of the new Congress, on Jan. 3. On Wednesday, Cassidy announced that he would challenge Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014.
Credit Cliff Owen / AP
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., on Capitol Hill in December.
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, considered among the most vulnerable of the Senate's red-state Democrats facing 2014 re-election, now has at least one potential Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, whose congressional district includes Baton Rouge.
The House Appropriations Committee is questioning the number and necessity of contracts that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education maintains with private entities.
At a committee meeting Tuesday Chairman Jim Fannin told BESE President Chas Roemer that contracts should be reviewed more often, so that the board can ensure the funds are being spent wisely. BESE cut costs last year by reducing the number of meetings from ten to seven a year, which gave them less time to review contracts.
After the blow back from the abbreviated debate on education reform in 2012, Representative Joel Robideaux said discussions on the Governor's initiatives got underway sooner this year. “Some may say that wasn’t a good way to go," Robideaux told the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, "because we’ve taken two months of opposition, but from a legislative standpoint, I think it’s great because we’ve had two months of debate we wouldn’t have otherwise been afforded.”
More stakeholders are turning their noses up at the governor’s plan to eliminate income and franchise taxes in favor of raising and broadening the sales tax.
House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards said the plan is a play from a national conservative think tank that will look good to voters in other states, if the governor decides to run for national office. His caucus thinks it will hurt low- and middle-income families, as well as small business, like those in the tourism industry.
The Louisiana Association for Business and Industry released a statement saying it will oppose any change to the system that raises tax on businesses.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has been instructed to stay quiet about the specifics of the cancelation of a nearly $200 million Medicaid contract.
That’s what State Inspector General Stephen Street told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday before a hearing on the Department of Health and Hospital’s budget for the next fiscal year got underway.
Under the Governor's proposed tax reforms low-income filers will be eligible for a rebate and some business incentive programs will see changes. The state House Ways and Means Committee met again Tuesday to discuss details on these elements of the proposal.
The Governor wants to eliminate the personal income tax and the corporate income and franchise taxes. Under the proposal, the sales tax will grow to make up that revenue.
Officials from the Department of Health and Hospitals were grilled Tuesday morning by the Appropriations Committee on how they plan to save money in the next fiscal year.
Among other cost-saving measures, the department’s $8.9 billion proposed budget calls for turning over a number of existing Medicaid services to private entities, and investing more in the Bayou Health reforms. Savings also hinge on the privatization of the LSU charity hospitals, although no official agreements have been made yet.