The guy in charge, for you out of stators, is an amiable fellow named John Bel Edwards. His election was seen by many as a fluke, where he won as a Democrat in a deep red state. So when his only solution is more taxes, you can imagine the uphill fight he has in dealing with an anti-tax, overwhelming Republican legislature. But even more than strong Republican opposition, Edwards is facing a “crisis of confidence” from a weary public who feel there is still a lot of waste coming out of the state capitol.
Most observers agree there is no way the Governor can cut some one billion dollars from the current budget. But there are many millions that are ripe for the trimming. He would do well to compile a list of programs for pruning, and spend the next month touring the state making his case for future needs, by ballyhooing his efforts to trim back current expenditures. Here’s a list of where to begin:
Home healthcare-The state could save over $200 million by simply supplying long-term medical care to patents in their home, as most states are now doing. The hang-up is the nursing home industry. Millions of dollars are poured into campaign funds to leave the outdated and expensive system alone.
Most of the nation is moving toward a model that steers more elderly and disabled people into long-term care in their own homes — an option that saves the state money, and happily, is preferred by most customers. The result, in most states, is an ever-increasing number of people served by home- and community-based Medicaid providers and a decreasing reliance on nursing homes. But in Louisiana, campaign money talks. The Governor himself received over $730,00 from nursing home related companies in the last campaign. Legislators could show some real courage by reducing this boondoggle, and come in line with other states who both save money and give better home healthcare services to the elderly.
Reform Tops- The current college tuition program is a sinkhole that just keeps on giving. Students who barely make it out of high school are given free tuition with few requirements towards graduation. The program should reward diligent students who carry a full college load, and who stay on course towards receiving a degree. If a student drops out of college, the grant should be converted to a student loan. And give a break for those students who go into public service or the military. There are a number of ways to help those in need get an education without allowing a good idea to financially flounder out of control.
Cut out a number of high priced state employees. Louisiana overpays for many department heads and unclassified employees. Many of their salaries approach $200,000.00 Most of the top assistants for statewide officials and department heads make more than the average salary for those working for the President. For example, the Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Chief of Staff is paid $95,000 a year. Few top Trump aides are paid more than $115,000. That’s chump change compared to numerous Louisiana state employees. The total saved may not make a big dent in the looming deficit, but it will be a sign to voters that the Governor is serious about getting state spending under control.
Hey, I’m just getting warmed up here. I held two statewide offices, and if the governor had called and asked me to cut my budget by 20%, I would have complained. But you know what? I could have done it and the public would have hardly noticed.
So Governor, show the taxpayers you mean business. Before asking for any new taxes, set out a series of cuts that will instill confidence showing you are on the right tract. Otherwise, you will be stuck in a fiscal deficit hole that will only get deeper.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.