Streamlining work beneficial despite shortcomings

Tuesday, Mar. 9
March 9, 2010
Sheriff’s ranges give public a new target
March 11, 2010

The Louisiana Streamlining Government Commission, of which I am a member, has made 238 recommendations to the Legislature and the governor in the first phase of its work to restructure and reduce the cost of state government.

Several of the commission’s recommendations have particular merit and deserve the support of the Legislature and the Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Proposals that should be implemented immediately include recommendations to sunset and start over with statutory dedications; make roads the top capital outlay priority; reduce the number of Civil Service job classifications; manage budget shortfalls without raising taxes; collect overdue money owed the state; provide tax credits to attend private schools so students in failing public schools have a choice in education; implement the LaHIPP and the Baby Bill programs to save money on Medicaid; require co-pays for taxpayer-funded E.R. visits; maximize Medicare teaching dollars; practice student-based budgeting; offer GED opportunities to reduce prisoner recidivism; enroll potential dropouts in Youth Challenge or Jobs for America’s Graduates; and require state agencies to have no more than one manager per 10 employees.

There are other necessary and important proposals that the commission considered but did not approve.

I re-urge the Legislature and the governor to pass and implement them, despite the lack of support by the commission.

They include recommendations to reduce the number of state government positions by 5,000 each year for the next three years by not filling vacancies; implement a single board of higher education; eliminate 20 percent of the state’s consulting contracts; prioritize Medicaid services; and require the final business plan for the proposed new Charity Hospital in New Orleans to be approved by a vote of the entire Louisiana Legislature.

Many of the Streamlining Commission’s recommendations are solid and should be implemented at the first opportunity. Nevertheless, in critical instances, the commission was too timid and too tentative, and as a result, its efforts fell short.

Despite the commission’s reluctance to embrace all necessary changes, these recommendations must not be allowed to fall by the wayside at this critical juncture in the state’s history of boom-and-bust revenue cycles and ever-increasing budgets.