Friday, 13 May 2016 12:21

Pinsonat: Louisiana Lawmakers, voters hurt on cuts, taxes, TOPS, healthcare, higher ed debates

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Should Louisiana hold a special session this June after the regular legislative session or should it wait until the latter part of the summer?  Will we cut only or raise taxes?  Which is more important to the state--TOPS or healthcare?  TOPS or higher education?  Which is more important to the voters?

These issues are just some of the issues Southern Media and Opinion Research pollster, Bernie Pinsonat and I discussed earlier this week, as we conducted an online video interview, to discuss various issues, such as the presidential elections and the Louisiana legislative session.

Currently, the issue of healthcare vs. higher education, TOPS vs. healthcare is fronnt and center given the fact that Louisiana is in a $600 million dollar hole, still after raising taxes during the past two legislative sessions.

Pinsonat, who speaks his mind and talks through numbers, makes some points that, one might think, the governor and the legislature might want to follow, or else, could get burnt, politically.  

So, here's today's latest edition of what we call here at, "Bernie Burns":

SABLUDOWSKY: The thing is, I know that LABI wants to, not have a special session in June, obviously they think that revenues are going to kick up and as result, we're not going to need a special session and one of things that I asked Steve Waguespack on Twitter--fine, I don't necessarily disagree, that's how I felt, but the problem is, what do you tell the universities, they've got to plan and how do you plan unless you, cut, and you know what you're going to cut and you know what you're not going to have, but you got to tell the students what is the future, this summer, in order to plan. So how do you not have a special session and just get it over with one way or the other?
PINSONAT: You  have a special session, you have to try, I'm taking his side, I'm not taking LABI'S` side, you're asking me, if the governor, I've got to have a special session, I've got to make the appeal, if he doesn't do that, his critics will come out of the wall wood work. And it won't be the Republicans, it will be his base and it will be the media and it will be the universities and it will be the people who will be affected, the employees, so, it's a nice suggestion by LABI but it doesn't apply to John Bell Edwards and his particular situation. John Bel Edwards has to have a special session, if he doesn't, it would certainly politically damage him with his own people and especially the universities and all the people and who would eventually be affected. If he can't raise the money, he can point to a lot of people and a lot groups in the legislature, if he doesn't make the attempt, it would be all those
SABLUDOWSKY: No, he's going to make that, I'm convinced he's going to make the attempt, but the Republicans could shut the session down just like they threatened to do in February
PINSONAT: Well, they may do it, they've got the numbers, that's one of the things that were living through, you've got a house that's pretty Republican proof as we saw we all have our opinion as to what happened as the fate to John Bel Edwards when found to be more moderate, we had a big screw up right there and I think that set the tone that may affect the governor in the House and what happens for the next four years. They got into a fight and neither side gave up and the Republicans won and he's paying the price now. So the question is, and the question is valid, will be Republicans shut him down and not raising the money, I don't know. I will say this, I think the speaker is a pretty decent guy, he's from Acadiana, he's not an ideologue on one side of the street or the other. I think, my discussions with--Sen. Alario and he get along very well together, they have a great working relationship. I think the governor and those guys have got to find some way to get out of the hole.
PINSONAT: We don't know. I think when the special session starts, Stephen, I think  there's going to be a lot more on the table. If there's not a lot more on the table than the choices that we have right now, then I think you'll see--but if cooler heads prevail and the governor and these guys get together go into session and say I'll give you this, we can come out of it and maybe only have to cut 200 million. That would be a great number for him. So I think it's a matter of cooperation right now. You're right, if there is no cooperation, if there's no plan--and one of the things that bother a lot of us and a lot of legislators, they need a more--there was a plan last year for he $700 million hole and everybody got on board and everybody basically did what they wanted, I don't know if it's possible with this, but it seems to work better when you've got when you have a plan and you spell out to the the public what exactly they get and what they don't get. Remember, I do a lot of tax collection and you can't pass a tax in Louisiana at the local level without a lot of work and convince the public that the money is going to be not wasted.  Give them a time frame,tell them who the contractors are, anytime you're involved with a tax, I think the more explanation, the more convincing, you are. So I don't think the governor and the leadership--here's where we are, let me make this point, the days of anyone saying I need this taxes because we have a deficit, it's a hard sell. And especially, it doesn't matter whether it's John Bel, or Bobby Jindal or David Vitter, Louisiana ranks 49th in trust in government and it hasn't changed. We operate under the worst state government among 48, 50 states--in the state were 48 you've got that problem and I'm not not digressing, I mean that's a big factor out there on taxes
SABLUDOWSKY: But, the thing is, were also 51, if you include Washington DC, I think were number 51 in healthcare, or if not 51, at the very very bottom, and so we're in a situation where we prefer to fund TOPS than to honor contracts with the hospitals. I mean, we don't know what's going to happen with the hospital system, I mean there's a debate going on right now as to whether we not fund four or we give a little bit of money to each one of them--but at the same time, with got to give money to people who can clearly afford TOPS and make sure that there taking care of. To me, that's not fair, it doesn't make any sense and and it defies the belief that conservatives have--that you got to cut cut cut
PINSONAT: Well your 1000 and 110% correct, it is mind boggling to me that Louisiana--and here's where the public is, let me give you secret on higher education, the people least likely who want to put money into higher education because they don't believe it's efficient and there been through the process, look at any poll to giving more money to higher education, you know who the most resistant?
PINSONAT: The people who graduated from college. They're the ones, absolutely, they're the ones most least likely to want to fund higher education with more taxes. They have been through the system and they don't buy the argument and they also know the professors and what they make, and they know the universities, and they know we have too many. The newspapers don't, but the newspapers are going around screaming about higher education like it's the end all, but I don't see the same intensity towards healthcare. Jindal when he cut healthcare, he cut enormous amounts of money and I guess the governor and newspapers are all of the opinion that healthcare is not that big a deal, we've got to save higher education and I've never seen effort towards all these hospitals across Louisiana that have been in inundated with new patients, who now, you have to treat them, they have a cold, to go to the emergency room, we're spending a lot of money on people who shouldn't be at the emergency room but that there day and night, and now. The hospitals have lost enormous amounts of money and I don't see any big effort to fix that problem. 

SABLUDOWSKY: Which, have you heard any of the hospital people say they going to walk away from the contracts?
PINSONAT: That was done to get rid of the charity in those contracts, the Lake has 100% reimbursement I don't know why they got that
PINSONAT: But then you have the other ones, that was done, Jindal couldn't get rid of charity to the legislature so he did it through the LSU board, then he had the state come and move the charities into these are the hospitals and they took over the load, and yet why aren't they being funded properly. Number one, I think they are to be funded properly, they ought to be able to justify based upon the number of patients and you have got an infusion of money into the state with Medicaid expansion which last a specific period of time, but no, I'm with you, the biggest surprise to me is the lack of attention the state government whether it's this governor or any governor gives to healthcare and what's the game plan? We don't have a game plan. And that's the area in Louisiana, I think Louisiana gets the worst ranking. It's where maybe we have a worse system, we don't have the money, the private hospitals versus public, most of them are gone, so now all those patients are pouring in, and they have been cut a lot of money, all of those across the state and yet you'll see editorial after editorial, "we can't cut higher education anymore" and I don't see any editorials about what we're doing to fix, to give us a first rate hospital system based the patient load that is being thrown at these private hospitals that have to treat these people

SABLUDOWSKY: Well it seem to me, and this is one of things I mentioned yesterday on Jeff Crouere's talk radio show and that is, basically, if crime is one of the major drivers, at least in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge, of scaring people, tourism which we really depend upon, then certainly, if you have people who are mentally ill and they can't get medical care because the hospitals are shut down or whatever it may be, all you're gonna do is, you going to drive crime up and you going to scare people away and that's a horrible situation--so, I just don't see why they haven't made that connection, I don't see why the hospitals haven't been out there, threatening to pull away, I haven't heard any of it, have you?

PINSONAT: Well the hospitals are at the capitol every day lobbying, you've got the Louisiana Hospital Association, I've done some polling for them, there in the forefront of working right now, with Barras (Speaker of the House)  leading the fight to get the money for Medicaid expansion, they're the ones that would work with the governor to use that money to get more federal dollars--that's pretty drastic when the hospitals, they came up with a plan, to get more money, for the state to get more money from the federal government to pay for all these--that wasn't done by the government,, so again, you're thousand percent correct and one of the least, there is no plan, okay let's go get some federal money and help Obama care and save us with the Medicaid expansion, but that's not going to pick us off the bottom, but it's causing us to stay there and there's no improvement no better outcomes for patients. They're attempting to get these patients into the clinics instead of the emergency room, it's a difficult process to get people, we wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning and have a chest pain and, they going to run straight to the hospital, they may have pneumonia, but if you've been to one of these places, it's just packed at night, and I don't see any plan out-of-state government to do anything about it.  You're 1000. Look there's no priority when you do polls, healthcare versus higher Ed, I don't know a campaign for governor that "save higher education" I've never seen a poll that says that it's a big deal to the average person.  The average person, because they're not going to go to college, we all understand the importance of it and we understand it keeps our kids here, but when it comes to serious problems Louisiana faces, I think that healthcare is way above higher education in the minds of most families in Louisiana. Remember, you and I were there when I ran the a poll on Jindal and him cutting the charity hospital, that's when Jindal fell like a rock. I mean he felt just tremendous popularity when he started messing around with the charity hospital system; for reference, by the way you and I had the discussion, his biggest hit ever on Republicans was when he messed with healthcare, so Republicans didn't care if he wasn't funding higher education to the amount that higher Ed wants it, he took the biggest said when he started messing with healthcare, because states knew that the charity hospital system was a hospital of last resort.  And by the way their kids may not get an education, they may be doing poorly, and they wanted that system available for anybody and everybody. Charity hospital was in our genes, we knew growing up it was a safety net,  when Jindal cut it, that's when his popularity dropped like a rock, by the way
SABLUDOWSKY: Okay so like Cameron Henry and the Appropriations Committee in the house, basically, again, they are trying to fully fund TOPS at the risk of not having a real plan to fund healthcare, and so, I guess my question is, shouldn't they learn the lesson that Jindal should have learned?

PINSONAT: The problem is that there is nobody on the same page. Nobody is saying that my first priority, the governor hasn't said my first priority is healthcare, they're now talking about the partnerships, and we don't really know what the partnerships are and why they don't like them. Camera Henry is talking to his voters,when he goes back home, he's gonna say I saved TOPS, by the way, is very popular, he's not going back home and say I saved higher education, that's not as popular as TOPS by the way

SABLUDOWSKY: Sure, but they're related, directly related

PINSONAT: I agree.  But you can make the case to Cameron Henry and any other Republican, or the Governor or anyone else--that healthcare is the number one issue in the state that people really care about. We can talk about a rail car between here and Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, if you did a poll, I would say that the voters, maybe 15% would care. But we have so many problems in Baton Rouge as you have in New Orleans and we come up with things to spend money on what does that have to do with reality--so, no, is Cameron Henry, no that's not what  really important to the average voter in Louisiana, is Cameron Henry doing what he's think is okay for his district, a Republican? Sure.. But is he going to help healthcare? No.

Pinsonat: Everybody'a bored, in the dark right now, in Louisiana legislative session
Bernie Pinsonat burns into Clinton v. Trump impact on Louisiana races, Best we've got?


Last modified on Friday, 13 May 2016 12:57
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