Almost $83 million in cuts to healthcare programs and services went into effect Friday to shore up a mid-year deficit in the state budget. These are separate from a previous round of cuts made in July.
The latest round of reductions includes cuts to services for at-risk children and low-income moms, as well as a one percent drop in the rate paid to hospitals and physicians for non-primary Medicaid services.
State Sen. Dan Claitor wants to add tax rebates to the list of matters that can only be considered in odd-numbered years, when the constitution mandates lawmakers take up fiscal issues. Generally, even-numbered years are reserved for non-fiscal deliberations. The constitutional amendment would require two-thirds approval in the legislature and a vote of the people.
Tax exclusions, exemptions, deductions, credits, and refunds are already limited to fiscal years.
Compass -- the evaluation system being rolled out in public schools across the state -- has raised the stakes. Teachers who don’t score highly effective under the new measures face the loss of salary and tenure. Ineffective teachers could lose their jobs.
The state Department of Education says so far attrition has remained steady, but the East Baton Rouge Parish School District is still wary of turnover. Beanka Williams, the coordinator of support programs for EBR, says the district is having job fairs monthly to make sure schools are fully staffed.
Williams has also been fielding questions from anxious teachers since last summer when they were first asked to set goals for what their students would learn this year.
Patent production isn’t growing as quickly in Baton Rouge as in other metro areas, according to a new national study.
The Brookings Institution ranks Baton Rouge 141st out of over 350 metro areas for patent production. The capitol city averaged 71 new patents yearly between 2007 and 2011. But it is on the bottom of the list for patent growth.
High patent production typically coincides with low unemployment. And patent growth can indicate coming industry expansion.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax reform proposals may include raising the tobacco excise tax. Health officials have suggested raising the tax by a dollar per pack. A study shows raising the tax by that much would raise $223 million a year – that’s almost enough to have closed this year’s $240 million budget gap.
Jindal has said his tax reforms would be revenue neutral, replacing the income tax with higher sales tax.
Preliminary data from the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation shows Super Bowl XLVII brought an estimated 150,000 visitors to New Orleans, and is expected to rake in an estimated $432 million for the city’s economy.
Just about 80 miles up the road here in the capital city, tourism spill-over from the Super Bowl-boom gave Baton Rouge a bit of an economic bump as well.
Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO Paul Arrigo says Baton Rouge started planning for Super Bowl 2013 in 2009, when New Orleans was initially chosen for the site.