Welcome to Democratic Louisiana!
This is the second edition of Democratic Louisiana, a newsletter that focuses on Louisiana political and policy news from a Democratic perspective. To view the first edition, click here.
This publication is not affiliated with the Louisiana Democratic Party or any other party organization, although those of us writing here are Democrats. One purpose of this publication is to provide the analysis and policy perspectives that can help arm Democrats in their fight for policies that better serve our state and its people.
Thank you for the enthusiastic and positive response to the first edition. If you know of someone who would enjoy reading Democratic Louisiana, please feel free to forward your copy to them.
One housekeeping note: "The Big Blue 1" is the top story of the week. The intro is here. To get to the rest of the story, click the link at the end of the story.
The Healthcare Reform Win story is going to stay there for a few more days so that more people get the message.
See you next week!
Mike Stagg, Editor
The coming 'Jindal Recession': the price we pay for his ambition?
Bobby Jindal is the most cynical governor in Louisiana’s history and his political ambition-driven agenda threatens to turn his pessimistic perception of our state into its reality.
Jindal’s obsessive objections to new taxes raise the specter of a healthcare and mental services needs catastrophe in the state. His sweeping privatization push in those sectors ostensibly justified by the state’s fiscal crisis will drive down the quality of services delivered, drive up the cost of delivering those diminished services, and wipe out thousands of jobs that enabled those state health and mental service workers to be solid middle class citizens in communities across the state.
That same anti-tax rigidity is choking off higher education, the economic engine that has meant economic stability for communities ranging in size from Eunice to New Orleans through the thinnest of times. His budget cuts have already caused the elimination of programs, the termination of non-tenure track faculty, and elimination of services delivered to communities by those universities.
With the state Revenue Estimating Board scheduled to produce a formal estimate of the recently announced revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year (guesses have ranged between $200 million and $400 million) higher education faces a round of deep cuts.
Research programs are threatened. Bringing outside dollars into a community is a definition of economic development. University-based research is, then, economic development. What do you call it when it leaves? We are about to find out.
Then there are the devastating cuts to healthcare and mental health services that were going to happen even without the latest budget hole. These cuts not only reduce services and access to care, they are eliminating middle-class jobs of state employees, and forcing private sector job losses in healthcare.
Will the Jindal Recession be the latest price Louisiana pays for Jindal’s national Republican ambitions?
Click here to read Part II: "Every Man a Hourly Employee!"
Jindal budget cuts Louisiana Legal Services funding
The Jindal administration's budget proposes eliminating funding for the Louisiana Legal Services Corp., which provides legal services for the poor on civil matters. The Alexandria Town Talk has the story here.
Bill would lift cap on bank loan fees
The Louisiana Legislature is rushing to the aid of the Louisiana Bankers Association. The House Commerce Committee on Tuesday approved HB-547, by Rep. Jeff Arnold (D-Algiers) which would lift the restriction on fees banks can charge consumers on loans for things like loan origination, documentation and notary fees. The Times-Picayune has the story here.
Caldwell denies deal with Jindal over suit
Democratic Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has publicly denied reports that he made a budget deal with Governor Bobby Jindal in exchange for joining up with 13 Republican states attorneys general to challenge the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The Times-Picayune story is here. A New Republic has a story on the history of the legal theory behind the suit. You can find that story here.
Local school system employees could lose jobs
Hundreds of public-school employees in Terrebonne and Lafourche could lose their jobs as local school boards struggle to cope with falling tax revenue and spiraling costs. The Jindal adminstration's plans to shift the cost of transporting private school students onto local school systems as well as the cost of stipends to teachers who obtain national board certification are compounding the problem. The Houma Courier story is here.
Republican wants to return to open federal primaries in Louisiana
Louisiana would return to an “open primary” election system for its congressional elections in 2012 under a proposal advanced without objection by the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. House Bill 292 is authored by Rep. Hunter Greene, a Baton Rouge Republican. Are Greene and his fellow Republicans getting concerned about the electability of candidates emerging from their closed primaries? The Advocate story can be found here.
Healthcare Reform Big Win for Louisiana and Democrats!
The Affordable Care Act has been signed into law by President Barack Obama, completing a year-long battle for his administration and a decades-long quest by Democrats to extend access to care to all Americans.
Senator Mary Landrieu played a key role in getting the legislation through the Senate, including securing $300 million from the federal government to help Louisiana Medicaid funding.
After a year of lies and distortions about what was in the bill, Louisiana residents will start seeing the benefits of the new law in a matter of months. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius began working with states last week to form high-risk pools that will offer affordable health insurance to adults who have been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Later this summer, children up to age 26 will be able to obtain health insurance coverage under their parents policy a big win for middle class families with health insurance.
Insurance companies are also being banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
Here's a link to a full list of benefits that come to you this year.
Other provisions of the law will kick-in over time, but benefits are coming this year, and Louisiana will be a huge winner as a result. That's the case because we have long had high percentage of adults without health insurance and we have high levels of chronic disease and high levels of early deaths from those diseases. The law will also bring new approaches to preventative care so that people can lead healthier lives.
The Democratic Policy Committee, a branch of the Senate Democratic Caucuse, has compiled a series of reports on what the Affordable Care Act will mean for each state. You can access those reports by clicking here.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has compiled a list of benefits of the Affordable Care Act will mean for each congressional district. You can download the impact on your district by clicking here.
Healthcare reform will be good for Democrats and for Louisiana! Get the facts and get ready to be proud of your President and your Congress!