Friday, 24 January 2014 19:51

Jindal's budget: no taxes, more education, healthcare $, shrink government

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jindal-speechIn many ways, today, might be called the first day of the legislative seession 2014 as Governor Bobby Jindal submitted a balanced budget proposal to the Legislature.   Here is the Jindal press release that explains the Executive budget and the governor's priorities.

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal submitted a balanced budget proposal to the Legislature that holds holds the line on taxes, increases funding for higher education, increases funding for K-12 schools, increases funding for healthcare, and continues to help foster an environment where businesses want to invest and create jobs. The Executive Budget also continues to shrink the size of government and help grow Louisiana’s private sector economy to create more good paying private sector jobs.

Governor Jindal’s budget increases higher education funding by $141.5 million, increases funding for the Minimum Foundation Program for K-12 schools to its highest level ever and by its largest annual increase since 2009, and increases healthcare funding without provider rate cuts or reductions in Medicaid eligibility.

Governor Jindal said, “We are in the midst of an economic renaissance in Louisiana, and there are tens of thousands of jobs in the pipeline for our state. Our next challenge is to make sure we have the skilled workforce to fill these jobs of the future. That’s why our top priority for this legislative session is to increase funding for higher education, K-12 schools, and workforce training. Our budget also continues to improve the delivery of health care services for Louisianians. Indeed, the budget increases funding for healthcare and includes no provider rate cuts or reductions in Medicaid eligibility. The bottom line is that this budget is further proof of our commitment to growing the private sector economy, making sure we have the most skilled workforce in the world, and caring for our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Executive Budget for the 2015 fiscal year proposes total funding of $24.99 billion, a decrease of $623.7 million, or 2.43 percent, compared to the 2014 fiscal year operating budget of $25.61 billion.  The Executive Budget does not sweep any fee-based funds, does not include one-time money for recurring expenses, or depend on savings from other reforms or legislation. The Executive Budget includes an investment of $25 million in the Rainy Day Fund, $14 million towards unfunded accrued liability (UAL), and fully funds merit increases for all eligible state employees.

Below are highlights of the Governor’s Executive Budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Click here for a complete summary of the Governor’s Executive Budget.

Higher Education Funding

·      The Executive Budget increases state general funding for higher education and increases total higher education funding by $141.5 million – a 6.6 percent increase over last year.

·      This funding includes a new higher education workforce incentive initiative of $40 million that will better prepare Louisiana students to compete in the new global economy. These funds will be made available to state research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges and universities that partner with private industry to produce graduates with high-demand degrees and certificates to enable them to link their coursework to industry needs and projected workforce demands.

·      More than $82.5 million of continued investments will fully fund the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), Louisiana’s merit-based scholarship program that awards qualifying students tuition payments for up to eight semesters at any eligible Louisiana institution. The bottom line increase to TOPS is $17 million.

·      To ensure that the nursing and engineering programs at Southern University and the STEM programs at Grambling State University, respectively, have the latest technology, $2 million will be invested for facility and technology upgrades.

·      The Executive Budget includes an investment of $5 million for LSU Ag.

K-12 Funding

·      For K-12 schools, the Executive Budget increases funding the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) to its highest level ever and by its largest annual increase since 2009. The Executive Budget funds an increase to the MFP of $69.1 million that will maintain FY 14 levels in the FY 15 budget. An additional $12 million will be combined with another $26.5 million based on anticipated student growth in Louisiana for a total increase in MFP funding to $107.6 million – the largest increase in the MFP since FY 09. The MFP has increased by roughly 13 percent since 2008.

·      The Executive Budget increases total funding for all of K-12 education, including funding for the MFP and outside of the MFP, by $102.8 million – a 2.99 percent increase over last year and $461.1 million since 2008 – a 14.75 percent increase.

Healthcare Funding

·      The Executive Budget increases healthcare funding for the next fiscal year, and includes no provider rate cuts or reductions in Medicaid eligibility.

·      The Executive Budget invests an additional $26 million to expand access to home and community-based waiver services. Overall, the budget includes more than $606 million in spending on these waivers, an increase of almost 6 percent when compared to the current year budget.

·      This investment will enable the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to begin filling over 2,250 previously frozen waiver slots (including all legislatively authorized slots), adding 200 new NOW waiver slots, and reducing the current waiting list by over 4,000 individuals.

·      Councils on Aging across the state will receive a $5 million increase for their work with Louisiana’s elderly population.

Bayoubuzz Staff

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