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Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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The Senate signed off on a measure yesterday that aims to restore funding to health care.

Sounds good right?

The opposition, including twenty-plus-year member of the legislature Senator Robert Adley, was quick to point out that approving the measure may back lawmakers into a corner with the budget.

fusionstream / Flickr

According to federal regulations, Louisiana’s nine-day recreational red snapper fishing season legally starts next weekend. But some fishermen have been landing snapper since the state season started in March — at the risk of also landing a ticket from federal authorities.

The discrepancy between state and federal red snapper authorities is the subject of a bill sponsored by Sen. Bret Allain. Allain wants to put an all-out ban on red snapper, reasoning that if the fisheries are in such dire straits, maybe they shouldn’t be fished at all.

The House Appropriations Committee Wednesday approved $60 million in capital spending for the state’s technical colleges over the next five years — despite the state’s tight purse-strings.

Chairman Jim Fannin insisted that investing in the technical college system will grow the economy and the tax base.

Next year’s method for funding for public schools is a bit up in the air after the Senate Education Committee rejected the proposed formula from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The formula, called the Minimum Foundation Program, or the MFP, was shot down last week because of a clerical error: BESE sent the legislature a draft of the MFP rather the final version.

A House bill that aims to secure state health care spending passed out of the Senate Finance committee yesterday.

The measure would create the "Hospital Stabilization Fund," which would utilize some hospital profits to draw down more federal dollars to help with uninsured patients.

Friday, the Senate Finance Committee continued to comb through the budget, and discovered there’s a lot left to fund this session.

To get a summary, Senator Fred Mills asked Legislative Fiscal Officer John Carpenter to detail the five top worries that keep him up at night.

In the Finance committee Thursday Senators questioned the way the House filled the hole it dug in the proposed budget for next year. The House took out one-time money, from selling state property, court settlements, and dedicated funds, and put in a tax amnesty program.

The Legislative Fiscal Office usually considers tax amnesty revenues to be one-time money too.

Hundreds of parents, children, teachers and administrators rallied on the steps of the Capitol calling on lawmakers to find a new way to fund private school vouchers, chanting "You promised/ to put kids first."

The old way to fund vouchers was ruled unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court last week because it routed money through a formula -- called the MFP -- that is dedicated to public schools.

 

A slice of East Baton Rouge Parish, south of I-12 and north of I-10, is a step closer to having its own school district.

 

The House Education Committee passed the set of bills needed to establish the breakaway district. Approval now falls to the Appropriations committee next to evaluate cost.

Lawmakers that have fought the Administration for more power in the process of privatizing the state’s charity hospitals may get their wish as they consider funding for the cost of laying off hospital workers.

According to a report by the state auditor’s office, the privatization will cost the state 42 million dollar in leave payouts and unemployment payments. 

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