Hilburn writes for Gannett and covers Louisiana politics and most recently the Louisiana legislative sessions.
Below is an overview of the conversation that I had with Hilburn which focused upon these issues of winners and losers. Unfortunately, since he was passing through a rough audio patch, the clarity is not optimum. Still, please review the audio-video for the exact questions and Hilburn’s responses.
The big winner was higher education. They're not flush with cash but it was the first time in “maybe seven or eight years” that they've had level-funding compared to the year before. They are one of the few programs or agencies that won't be cut. The biggest loser was public education. It was fully funded through the mandated funding, but will lose about 24 million dollars less than the current year
Tops was 30% or 70% funded. The Senate wanted the funds to be dispersed evenly over two- semesters, the House of Representatives wanted to have it front-loaded, with 100% of the fall semester covered and if no additional monies are available, the spring semester will fall to about 40%. “So we're facing kind of a cliff in the second semester” . The governor could veto the language that directs the allocation which would cause the funding to go back t an even distribution of 70-70 funding, per semester. At the time of the press conference early Friday morning, the Governor said that he wasn't certain about what he would do, but he obviously was not happy about the situation.
Before the first special session, higher education was to be cut by 30% and then after revenues were raised in the first special session, the cut was reduced to 8%. But after the special session, they will now receive more general-funding dollars then they did last year. The TOPS reduced funding definitely impacts higher education, and even if students can afford the tuition, they might choose to put up some money and go elsewhere (outside of Louisiana).
There's still some uncertainty with higher ed despite getting more funding than last year and they certainly were not made whole.
PRIVATE PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS
The private-public partnerships that operate the safety-net charity system, the legislature allocated 50 million which is what the governor requested while he negotiated better deals with the partnership's but the partnership say that that's not the case that they really need about 75 million. That situation is very much uncertain.
The medical schools in New Orleans to Shreveport are separate from the safety-net hospitals, their allocation was cut in Shreveport from 10 to 4 million and in New Orleans from 3 million to 1 million. There is an attempt to try to re-capture all the money through Medicaid maneuvers, The hope is to recover some of that money through the expansion of Medicaid, in some way
PART TOMORROW: The two-billion dollars surplus?