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Groups oppose Jindal plan to scale back tax credits

Louisiana’s business-lobbying groups are calling a centerpiece of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal a multimillion-dollar tax hike on business, pitting the governor against powerful industry leaders in the upcoming legislative session. The Republican governor wants to lessen spending on refundable tax credits, in which the state pays out more than the taxes a person or business owes.… Continue reading →

State hospital operators say Jindal budget leaves them short

Louisiana has built a $1.1 billion medical teaching hospital in New Orleans, but the manager of the soon-to-be-opened University Medical Center says Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget leaves it millions short of the operating cash it needs. Altogether, private operators of the state-owned hospitals previously run by LSU asked for $142 million more than Jindal proposed to spend… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal's budget proposal reveals spending, cuts planned for Louisiana

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Amite State Rep. John Bel Edwards, head of the House Democratic Caucus, reads the governor's budget proposal on Friday as it was being presented to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

The Jindal administration rolled out a budget plan Friday that avoids much of the doomsday scenario spawned by a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall — partly by scaling back state tax credits — but still imposes significant cuts to government spending. The budget plan includes suggestions for raising money, including the possibility of a… Continue reading →

Governor Bobby Jindal's budget short on money for LSU hospital deals

Private operators of LSU hospitals asked for a $142 million increase in funding that is not included in the Jindal administration’s budget proposal. Most of the extra funding request came from operators of the New Orleans LSU hospital, which projected a need for $87.6 million in additional funding that they didn’t get. In Baton Rouge, the difference… Continue reading →

GOP legislators will look at tax exemptions to help raise revenue, despite Gov. Jindal's objections

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Louisiana State Capitol and grounds.

When the budget is unveiled Friday, some Republican lawmakers say they’re going to be looking at tax exemptions and credits, which Gov. Bobby Jindal repeatedly has declared off-limits, to see if any adjustments can be made that would raise revenue to help fill a $1.6 billion deficit between the cost of state services and the amount of revenues… Continue reading →

Brother-in-law of state health secretary Kathy Kliebert facing ethics charges for failure to disclose his state Medicaid contractor employment

State health Secretary Kathy Kliebert’s brother-in-law is facing ethics charges for failure to disclose his employment by state Medicaid contractor Magellan Health Services Inc. The Louisiana Board of Ethics said Galen Schum failed to file financial disclosure statements required of public servants and members of their immediate family who derive anything of economic value, directly,… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal to propose spending $500 million less on tax credits, give money to Louisiana higher education, health care

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- La. Gov. Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to spend $526 million less on refundable tax credits next year, and direct that money to lessen the budget cuts on public colleges and health services. The plan will be contained in the governor's budget proposal for next fiscal year, to be unveiled to lawmakers Friday. For tax credits deemed "refundable,"… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Legislator wants voters to decide on Medicaid expansion

The Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge.

With health care cuts looming large, top Democratic state Sen. Karen Peterson is proposing to let Louisiana voters decide whether they want Medicaid expansion to relieve the funding pressure. Gov. Bobby Jindal has vehemently opposed Medicaid expansion, claiming it only extends an expensive program that’s not working to improve people health and would end up being too… Continue reading →

La. VA complains about payments

Louisiana veterans are running up debt because a federal agency isn’t paying their medical bills on time, according to the chief of the state’s veterans agency. Federal law authorizes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health coverage for eligible military veterans when they are “financially liable” for emergency medical services provided at a local non-VA… Continue reading →

Advisers: Louisiana's Group Benefits reserves fallen below 'safe' levels

Once-robust state Group Benefits reserves have fallen below what the state-operated health insurance program’s financial advisers consider “safe.” The Legislative Fiscal Office reported the fund balance sat at $102.8 million at the end of January — down from a high of more than $500 million a little more than two years ago. The fund balance… Continue reading →

LSU audit: No problems with Bill Cassidy work arrangement

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Bill Cassidy makes a speech to his supporters after winning the US Senate race at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy performed the part-time teaching physician work required of him under an LSU Health Science Center arrangement, according to a newly released LSU internal audit. But the audit report said future such work arrangements between Cassidy and LSU should be formalized, including a system for measuring performance. During last fall’s U.S.… Continue reading →

Louisiana lawmakers support most of Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to reduce state spending, but 5 areas will be hit hard

Senator Robert Adley

State lawmakers on Friday criticized but did not reverse nearly $61 million in cuts that Gov. Bobby Jindal levied across state agencies to close a midyear deficit. More than 135 state workers will be laid off. Open hours at state museums and parks will shrink. Three state historic sites will close. Plans to expand a program that… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Bobby Jindal traveling to Israel this fall

Added to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s travel destinations: Israel. The governor will travel with the Family Research Council for a week of sightseeing at the Sea of Galilee and Mount Carmel before heading to Jerusalem. The group is scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv on Oct. 28 and return to the U.S. on Nov. 6. Continue reading →

Baton Rouge urgent care clinics to play key role as Mid City emergency room closure looms

Advocate Photo by MARSHA SHULER -- David Hood, the former secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, speaks at a rally Feb. 11 protesting the closure of the emergency room at the Baton Rouge General Mid-City Hospital. Members of the Baton Rouge legislative delegation, Republicans and Democrats, joined the effort and blamed the Jindal administration's policies for leading to the impending shutdown.

Health care officials Friday announced plans to expand urgent care clinics to help with the impact of a Baton Rouge hospital’s decision to close its emergency room. State health Secretary Kathy Kliebert said Baton Rouge-area hospitals should have enough emergency room capacity to absorb the volume after the Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City Campus Continue reading →

See which businesses ATC says sold alcohol, tobacco to underage customers; Carnival crackdown shows downward trend

Agents with the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control found fewer business selling alcohol and tobacco products to underage customers during a recent Mardi Gras crackdown, as compared with a similar crackdown in 2014. Follow this link for a list of businesses cited for underage sales. Compliance checks were conducted at 860… Continue reading →

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler plans layoffs, will reduce hours at museums to suffice mid-year budget cuts

Schedler

Secretary of State Tom Schedler announced Wednesday that he will lay off 24 full-time employees and reduce hours at museums under his control to cope with the midyear budget cut assigned to his office by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Schedler said layoffs will begin in mid-April, if approved by civil service officials. The two largest museums operated… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge General Mid City emergency room closure creating community crisis

Advocate Photo by MARSHA SHULER -- David Hood, the former secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, speaks at a rally Feb. 11 protesting the closure of the emergency room at the Baton Rouge General Mid-City Hospital. Members of the Baton Rouge legislative delegation, Republicans and Democrats, joined the effort and blamed the Jindal administration's policies for leading to the impending shutdown.

Baton General Hospital executives say plans to close their Mid City emergency room will proceed regardless of any alternatives legislative leaders, community activists and the Jindal administration develop. “We respect the community’s constructive discussion and their desire to have emergency services in mid city,” said Mark Slyter, president and chief executive officer at Baton Rouge General/General Health… Continue reading →

Politico: Steve Scalise mending fences after speech flap

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., leaves the chamber after the House voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to repeal the health care law that stands as President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, but this time the bill carried instructions for several committees to replace

Seven weeks after coming under fire for giving a 2002 speech to a group associated with white supremacists, the House’s No. 3 Republican, Steve Scalise, R-La., is meeting with key members of the Congressional Black Caucus, conferring with civil rights leaders and trying to forge relationship with reporters, according to a report by Politico.com. Scalise… Continue reading →

State Capitol road closures start Monday

The State Capitol security upgrade project will require a couple of road closures beginning Monday. The road behind the State Capitol will become one-way going toward Third Street. In addition, motorists will no longer be able to circle the Arsenal Park because the roadway between the Capitol and the park will be closed. Division of… Continue reading →

How Louisiana health agency is keeping its potential budget cuts secret

The state health agency is using a law backed by the Jindal administration to conceal its recommendations for $600 million to $700 million in budget cuts. State Department of Health and Hospitals officials said the public will know where the reductions will be made on Feb. 27, when Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office submits the proposed state budget… Continue reading →

Big 3 rating agencies affirm Louisiana credit rating for state borrowing

After criticizing the way state government puts together its budgets, all of the “big three” financial ratings services maintained the state’s credit standing but two changed their opinions on Louisiana’s financial outlook from “stable” to “negative.” Moody’s Investors Service on Friday morning kept the Louisiana’s rating as Aa2, which is below average for… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Like George Costanza, Jindal finds his worlds colliding

“It’s just common sense,” a supremely exasperated George Costanza insisted during a classic episode of the old “Seinfeld” sitcom, after learning that his girlfriend Susan has started hanging out with his platonic pal Elaine. “Everybody knows you gotta keep your worlds apart.” When worlds collide, the punchline goes, “it blows… Continue reading →

Our Views: Under budget pressure, Bobby Jindal’s misguided view on tax credits could be changing

Advocate staff file photo by Richard Alan Hannon - 'Twilight' movie fans Kira Arthurs, left, of Baton Rouge, and her cousin, Jamie Ryan, of Lubbock, Texas, train their binoculars on activity below in the hopes of seeing stars of the film from atop the Louisiana State Capitol in January 2011. A panel is tasked with determining how much tax revenue the state receives in exchange for granting credits for film productions.

Four major candidates have announced their intentions to seek the office that Gov. Bobby Jindal will leave, amid great budgetary disarray, in January 2017. One of the candidates at the first forum was asked about state finances. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne politely but firmly called “misguided” the current governor’s position on tax credits and exemptions that… Continue reading →

Love and Money: Live chat at 11 a.m. with Michelle Singletary

Personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary is holding a live chat at 11 a.m. March 27 with with Crystal Paine, author of 'Say Goodbye to Survival Mode' and operator of MoneySavingMom.com.

Syndicated financial advice columnist Michelle Singletary is hosting a live chat at 11 a.m. today with the authors of “The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In, or Moving On!” Join the chat here.… Continue reading →

'Out of tricks:' How Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has driven state to $1.6B budget deficit

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Gov. Bobby Jindal gave  a preview of the state budget in his office on Feb. 21, 2013.

Year after year, Louisiana didn't have enough money to cover its expenses, yet Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to roll back income tax cuts or ever-increasing corporate tax breaks. Instead, he raided reserve funds and sold off state property. Jindal suggested job growth from his economic development wins would replenish those assets once the recession ended. It hasn't — and money from… Continue reading →

Planned Parenthood fighting state denial of New Orleans abortion service expansion

Planned Parenthood Center for Choice on Wednesday appealed the Jindal administration’s denial of its application to provide abortion services at a health center under construction in New Orleans. “The decision was arbitrary and capricious,” Planned Parenthood lawyer Roger Evans said. “There was no basis for denying it.” Dr. Julie Finger, of New Orleans, said the rejection… Continue reading →

Leaders, activists decry closing of Baton Rouge Medical Center's Mid City ER: 'We are about to put the Capital City in a death zone'

Advocate Photo by MARSHA SHULER -- David Hood, the former secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, speaks at rally Wednesday protesting the closure of the emergency room at the Baton Rouge General Mid-City Hospital. Members of the Baton Rouge legislative delegation, Republicans and Democrats, joined the effort and blamed the Jindal administration's policies for leading to the impending shutdown.

Local legislators and community activists called on the Jindal administration Wednesday to provide funding to keep open the Baton Rouge General Medical Center Mid City’s emergency room. State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb and others said the planned shutdown in less than 60 days does not give sufficient time to come up with viable solutions to keep the emergency… Continue reading →

Moody’s might downgrade Louisiana’s credit rating for 3 main reasons

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, shakes hands with LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, right, at a groundbreaking Wednesday for the Center For River Studies at The Water Campus, before Jindal answered questions from the media on the budget and other topics.

The “big three” financial rating services are taking a close look at Louisiana’s budget and that interest has mobilized the state’s top fiscal leaders. An influential New York rating service told Louisiana fiscal officers Wednesday morning that it would decide, perhaps as early as next week, whether to lower the state’s credit rating. By afternoon another… Continue reading →

Expected deep cuts to higher ed has Jindal administration looking to adjust tax credits

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of LSU showing the campanile, union and quadrangle.

The Jindal administration is looking at adjusting tax credits as a way of raising revenues to mitigate deep cuts expected to higher education and health care, the chief budget architect said late Tuesday. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the ideas are among those under review and that anything accepted must be “revenue neutral.” But for the… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal administration and legislative leaders to update Moody’s

Louisiana’s top fiscal lawmakers are scheduled to talk Wednesday with an influential rating service in hopes of keeping the agency from lowering the state’s bond rating. Moody’s Investors Service last week warned that the state’s deteriorating financial situation could lead to a lower credit rating. A “credit negative” rating would make investors… Continue reading →

Campaign underway to save Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Mid City ER

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Baton Rouge General's mid-city campus.

Some Baton Rouge legislators, religious and community leaders are mounting a campaign aimed at keeping the emergency room open at Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Mid City hospital. The group will hold a 10 a.m. Wednesday news conference on the steps of the State Capitol to “sound the alarm” and “provide solutions to preserve services,” according to… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Bobby Jindal unsure about how much it costs to attend LSU

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial view of LSU campus in Baton Rouge, La.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has answered a lot of questions lately during a round of Washington appearances while contemplating a run for president in 2016. One question on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday appeared to stump Jindal: How much does it cost to attend LSU? See his answer here.… Continue reading →

'Just to be safe,' Louisiana State Capitol has scaffolding installed to protect visitors from falling mortar

Scaffolding topped with boards went up Monday around the main entrance to the State Capitol in an effort to protect visitors from potential falling mortar. The move was prompted by the discovery of broken mortar pieces from the limestone panel joints over the Capitol’s front door, said Meghan Parrish, communications director for the state Division of Administration. “In an… Continue reading →

In Toon with Walt contest: Write Me Sumpthin’, Mister!

See if you can come up with the funniest punch line to our latest 'toon challenge. Deadline is Jan. 22. Continue reading →

Louisiana’s teacher, state employee pension debt spikes to $19.2B; now, who's going to pay for it?

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Louisiana State Capitol and grounds.

The $17.7 billion long-term debt of Louisiana’s teacher and state employee pension plans just got larger. Known as “unfunded accrued liabilities,” the UAL for the state’s teachers’ and employees’ retirements has hit the $19.2 billion mark. It represents how far short the systems are from having the assets necessary to pay their long-term pension obligations,… Continue reading →

Early voting starts Saturday for Feb. 21 special elections

Weeklong early voting begins Saturday for the Feb. 21 special elections to fill vacant seats in the Louisiana House of Representatives. East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Rapides and Vermilion parishes have elections to fill open legislative seats while Evangeline Parish is hosting a mayoral race in the Village of Turkey Creek. Early voting… Continue reading →

LSU outlines dire budget scenarios, layoffs and course cuts

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- As LSU students roam campus, the university is facing grim scenarios because of looming budget cuts.

Widespread layoffs, hundreds of classes eliminated, academic programs jettisoned and a flagship university that can’t compete with its peers around the nation — those are among the grim scenarios LSU leaders outlined in internal documents as the threat of budget cuts looms. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is considering deep budget slashing to higher education for the… Continue reading →