"LSU trying hard to save city from itself, "
Other Opinions, June 3. The vitriol towards the development of an academic
health care enterprise in New
Orleans recurrently espoused by columnist James Gill
is truly amazing. It appears that his No. 1 goal is to stymie economic
development and health care reform in Louisiana
any way he can.
town that has transitioned from steel to health care as a major industry, the
citizens and the press relish the excellence in their academic medical
centers. Maybe that is why they are always in the top 10 hospital rankings,
and they don't have to send their patients out of state (to places like M.D.
Anderson and St. Jude) for health care.
is apparently content to let Louisianan's health care outcomes languish near
the bottom, not invest to make it better, and send those jobs out of the
state. What a loyal citizen!
K. Kolls, M.D.
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ROUGE -- The state budget debate enters a critical phase this week as the
House and Senate have passed radically different spending blueprints for the
2009-10 fiscal year that they will try to reconcile into a bill they can send
to Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk.
the Senate completed its work on the $28.7 billion budget late Friday, the
next step is to find out what the governor thinks of it all -- a subject
likely to be front-and-center this morning as Jindal begins the week with a
there are the more detailed questions hanging over the budget as things head
will become of the Senate's contingency language? As things stand, the budget
bill includes $118 million in "below the line" restorations for
higher education that is tied to the passage of a separate tax bill that
won't pass if 55 House members stick to their word. The health-care
restorations, meanwhile, are contingent on tapping the state's rainy-day fund
-- a much less controversial idea and one that Jindal has indicated he'll
the House-Senate conferees have the nerve to produce a budget that restores
spending for health-care but not education? Or will they shuffle things
around so that both areas get some additional money, but not as much as the
Will the Legislature stick to its plan to have the budget bill in Jindal's hands early enough that he'll be forced to act
while lawmakers are still in session, giving them time to override any
line-item vetoes? Or will the complex task of bridging the House-Senate
divide slow things to the point where the governor gets to issue his vetoes
How much of this will play out in public conference committees, as House
Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, has touted, and how much will be hammered out
in closed-door negotiations? And finally: How much will the governor involve
himself in the negotiations?
has already taken a far more hands-on approach to this year's session than he
did a year ago, which would indicate that whatever bill reaches his desk will
already carry his fingerprints.
on tap today:
House will take up House Bill 3 by Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, which
allows the state to sell bonds for construction projects outlined in the
capital outlay bill. The bill fell eight votes shy of the 70 needed for
passage last month, and has languished on the House calendar ever since.
on today's House docket is House Bill 783, which would privatize the
state-run John J. Hainkel Jr., Home and Rehabilitation Center
in New Orleans.
The bill, backed by the Jindal administration as a cost-saving measure, has
faced near-unanimous opposition from the Crescent City
delegation, who want to know why the state is tampering with a nursing home
that ranks among the best in surveys.
Speaker Pro Tem Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, will try for the third
time to get a cigarette-tax increase through the House Ways and Means Committee after
her first attempt was defeated and her second bid was thwarted when the
governor's office hijacked two legislators to prevent a quorum.
Senate Finance Committee meets upon adjournment to take up a handful of
bills, including House Bill 341, which would pay the legal expenses for Dr.
House Transportation Committee will take up Sen. Neil Riser's bill (SB 168)
to require backseat passengers to wear seat belts. A companion measure by
Rep. Nickie Monica, R-LaPlace,
has already passed the House.
A.G. Crowe's bill to crack down on retailers that sell pornography to minors
is scheduled for a hearing on the Senate floor.
sampling from the morning/weekend papers:
A few years ago, money earmarked for the Purple Circle Social Club became
symbolic of state government spending run amok. This year's contender: A
$25,000 grant for the Awesome Ladies of Distinction, which gets top billing as
the Baton Rouge Advocate looks at all the pet projects that got shoehorned
into the budget despite the state's financial woes.
The Opelousas Daily World, looking way down the road, weighs in with some
advice for Gov. Jindal on seeking the White House that boils down to this:
Don't spend too much time tending to the hard right that you alienate those
in the middle.
The Times-Picayune's Stephanie Grace also looks at Jindal's
devotion to GOP orthodoxy and isn't pleased with the results.
The Legislature's control of college tuition rates may slowly be coming to an
Gannett combs through the tax-break bills. So does The Associated Press.
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state Department of Health and Hospitals has implemented a new plan to
address the needs of children dependent on medical technology in case of a
loss of power during hurricane season, department Secretary Alan Levine said.
new plan is a response to problems some families had during Hurricane Gustav
in accessing medical help for their toddlers who use ventilators to breathe.
can tell you this. I have the phone number of every hospital CEO in the state
in my Blackberry. I will do whatever it takes to make sure a
technology-dependent child is taken care of,” Levine said.
families had problems finding a place for their special-needs children during
Gustav, leading them to lobby the state for a special medical needs shelter
or a designated hospital.
and Bridget Wallace had problems in August finding a place to bring their
then-15-month-old son, William, in the days leading up to Gustav’s strike on Baton Rouge.
Wallace cannot breathe without a ventilator and has gone though numerous
surgeries, suffers from cerebral palsy and bronchial pulmonary disease, has a
full tracheotomy, suffered brain hemorrhages and seizures, and is nourished
through a feeding tube, his parents said.
Kodi and Brad Wilson, employees of LSU,
said their then-2-year-old son, Braden, suffers from Leigh’s disease, a rare neurometabolic disorder that affects the central nervous
the time of Gustav, Braden couldn’t survive without oxygen and air
conditioning, his mother said.
the days leading up to Gustav and right after, Kodi
Wilson said, she had to resuscitate her son six times because he stopped
days after Gustav, Braden had to have a tracheotomy and was put on a
ventilator to breathe.
the Wallaces, there were no special-needs shelters
or hospitals that would take the Wilsons’
son before he was eventually admitted to a local hospital.
Kodi Wilson said she was so upset, she put
together a petition with more than 40 signatures and wrote a letter to the
state’s first lady, Supriya Jindal, asking for the
state to assist all special-needs children and their families during
Kodi Wilson said she never received a
Sellers, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s press secretary, said
she checked with the first lady’s staff and they did not have the letter or
a written statement e-mailed to The Advocate, Sellers wrote, “DHH Secretary
Alan Levine has worked to develop an improved plan for this hurricane season
that will provide needed care for families with special-needs children.
absolute top priority during a hurricane is the safety and well-being of all Louisianians, especially those who have special health
said every family with a technology-dependent child should have its own
emergency plan in place in case power is lost. The Wilsons and Wallaces said their families now have generators —
purchased at a cost of thousands of dollars. The Wilsons purchased their generator with the
help of their church.
a family receives assistance from a home health agency, that agency is
required to have an emergency plan filed with the parish office of emergency
preparedness as well as DHH, Levine said.
those plans fail, families should call 211, Levine said. Operators will
transfer those calls directly to a state triage team of nurses, hospital
officials and home health agency workers.
triage team will be set up at the state’s emergency operation center, the
same place Levine and Gov. Jindal will be during a hurricane or other state
the triage team assesses the needs of the child, state officials will act,
whether it’s getting certain supplies to the child or transporting the child
to a hospital.
last year, Levine said, there are participating hospitals across the state that are part of this new emergency plan.
said he does not want to name the hospitals before the emergency because
state officials don’t want the families to all show up at one particular
could create a capacity problem. We want to do this in an organized manner
and give the new system a chance to work,” Levine said.
Wallace, a registered nurse, and Kodi Wilson said
they wish the state would set up a special shelter where families could go
just to “plug in” power cords to medical equipment for their children.
said the state decided against a specific special-needs shelter.
many things can go wrong at a shelter,” he said. “Many of the children would
do better in a hospital.”
also said the state is finalizing plans to work with private vendors to open
pediatric day-care facilities for special-needs children. He said the plan is
to have those facilities open by the start of next hurricane season.
it may be too late for the Wilson
what they went through last year, Kodi Wilson said,
her family will probably leave Louisiana
at some point.
don’t have other family here. We’re from Kansas. We just felt alone. We are not
asking for a handout, just some help,” Kodi Wilson
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conducted under the direction of Melinda Sothern, PhD, Professor and Director
of Health Promotion at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of
Public Health, showing early signs of diabetes in healthy children as young
as seven years old will be presented at the American Diabetes Association
2009 Annual Scientific Session Meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Sothern's group is the
first to document previously unknown markers for obesity, heart disease and
diabetes, collectively called the Metabolic Syndrome, in children this young.
Posters will be presented on Saturday, June 6, 2009, and Brian Bennett, a
Research Associate in Dr. Melinda Sothern's laboratory will make the oral
presentation, Early Markers for the Metabolic Syndrome in Youth, on Monday,
June 8, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. at the Ernest
N. Morial Convention
Center, Room 343. Dr. Sothern will be there for
reported are from 118 healthy children, age 7 - 9 years old, enrolled in LSUHSC's ongoing Study of Insulin-sensitivity in Louisiana
Low-birth-weight Youth (SILLY). LSUHSC's Dr.
Sothern is the principal investigator of the NIH-funded study which is investigating
the importance of birth weight to diabetes.
increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in children parallels the
pediatric obesity epidemic. According to the American Academy
of Pediatrics, over the past two decades, the prevalence of children who are
obese has doubled, while the number of adolescents who are obese has tripled.
And according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 31.9%
of children and adolescents were overweight (BMI at or above the 85th
percentile) and 16.3% were obese (BMI at or above 95th percentile).
resistance/poor insulin sensitivity is closely associated with increased
total body fat and may precede development of the metabolic syndrome and type
2 diabetes. Indicators of impaired insulin
sensitivity have yet to be clearly identified in children prior to puberty.
LSUHSC researchers found that the child's current fat weight is the strongest
predictor for poor insulin sensitivity which is a risk factor for type 2
diabetes. LDL (bad cholesterol) was also strongly associated with insulin
sensitivity in the prediction model. Previously unidentified Metabolic
Syndrome markers discovered by Dr. Sothern's team include:
* Fat in the liver cells and fat in the
skeletal (leg) muscle cells also predict poor insulin sensitivity and high
insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) along with an impaired fat burning ability
in the muscles.
* These relationships were only found
after the researchers considered the child's current fat weight, so the
strongest predictor is whether or not these young children are currently
overweight or obese.
* The fat in the skeletal muscle became
less important after Dr. Sothern's team considered the mother's weight prior
to and during pregnancy, whether the child was breast-fed, and the current
physical activity level of these young children.
means that if the mother has a healthy weight gain during pregnancy and the
child is breast-fed and physically active, the fat may not accumulate in the
skeletal muscle and/or liver and the child may not experience an impaired fat
burning ability in the muscle. All of these factors are significantly
associated with poor insulin sensitivity that may eventually lead to type 2 diabetes in adolescence or young adulthood. We hope to
conduct future prospective studies in this cohort of healthy children to confirm
this finding," notes Dr. Melinda Sothern, LSU Health Sciences Center New
Orleans Professor of Public Health and study leader.
fat oxidation (how well the body is able to utilize fat as a fuel), blood
pressure, and lipids (HDL and LDL) were identified as the best physiologic
predictors of insulin sensitivity.
Arlette Soros, MD, an LSUHSC Pediatrics
fellow who is a member of Dr. Sothern's research team, is presenting results
of the first study to examine why some children become hypoglycemic (low
blood sugar) during insulin sensitivity testing. She will report that
children who are lean and have less fat in their skeletal muscle are more
likely to get hypoglycemia. Also those with the best insulin sensitivity were
the most likely to get low blood sugar.
are not sure why this is but think they may be more fit and less prone to
diabetes," concludes Dr. Sothern.
Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates the majority of Louisiana's health care professionals. The
state's academic health leader, LSUHSC comprises a School
of Medicine, the state's
only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's
only public School of Public Health, Schools of Allied Health Professions
and Graduate Studies, as well as the only School
of Nursing in Louisiana within an academic health
center. LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in
public and private hospitals and clinics throughout Louisiana. In the vanguard of biosciences
research in a number of areas worldwide, LSUHSC faculty
have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, treat, or
cure disease. LSUHSC outreach programs span the state.
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Businessman gets New Orleans City Council to designate CBD as the
a sail boat cruises under clear, dry skies, a rain storm moves over the
Central Business District on May 12. The council has given its nod of
approval for use an old name for the CBD -- "The American Sector."
most of the past decade, Arne Hook has been a man with a mission -- a curious
and even quixotic mission, many might have thought, but one that last week
won the blessing of the New Orleans City Council.
goal has been to get New Orleanians to start using
the label "American Sector" for the part of town often known as
Downtown, the Central Business District or the Downtown Development District.
part of the city upriver from Canal
Street was widely known by that name in the
first half of the 19th century. As the city expanded after the Louisiana Territory
became part of the United
States in 1803, most of the newly arrived
Americans settled in new neighborhoods upriver from the French and Creole
sections below Canal.
the name dropped out of use even as the section of the city just across Canal
gained international fame as the French Quarter.
around 2001, Hook began pushing the idea of reviving the American Sector name
for the area bounded by Canal Street, the river, Pontchartrain Expressway and
South Claiborne Avenue -- an area including the city's financial district;
disparate historic neighborhoods such as the Warehouse District, Lafayette
Square and Picayune Place; and 20th century landmarks such as City Hall, the
Superdome, Charity Hospital, the Ernest N. Morial
Convention Center and the string of high-rise towers along Poydras Street.
the name "would unify the area with a common identity" and help
with marketing and tourism promotion efforts, said Hook, a businessman then
based in the Warehouse District. "We have a very long history in the
American Sector that by and large has not been told, "
managed to get the board of the Downtown Development District, whose
boundaries are almost identical to those he proposed for the American Sector,
to hold a hearing on the idea in 2002.
several business owners complained that they had spent nearly 20 years
building public recognition of the name Warehouse District and various
offshoots, such as the Warehouse Arts District and Warehouse Museum District.
They said any attempt to introduce a new name would confuse the public and
undermine their efforts.
said tourists don't care what a neighborhood's name is and that trying to
market a new name would be a waste of time and effort.
DDD board ended up taking no action. Undeterred, Hook kept at it, hoping to
win official recognition of his idea to coincide with the Louisiana
Purchase bicentennial in 2003.
date came and went, but Hook still persevered. He founded a nonprofit
organization, Friends of the American Sector Inc., and got several prominent Orleanians to serve on the board.
won endorsements for his idea from leaders of the National World War II
Museum, former U.S. Rep. Lindy Boggs, Audubon Nature Institute CEO Ron
Forman, several local historians and others.
he could never get the City Council to do anything -- not until last week,
when the council gave 7-0 approval to a resolution introduced by Councilwoman
Jackie Clarkson endorsing use of the American Sector label as "an
umbrella designation" that "would be useful for marketing purposes,
especially in regards to cultural tourism."
though the resolution says the council "hereby restores" the
historic designation, the vote is likely to have little practical effect.
Businesses and residents in the affected area can continue to call their
neighborhood whatever they like.
even in his moment of triumph, Hook had to cede most of the spotlight to
leaders of the World War II Museum, who appeared with him to tout their plans
to open several major new attractions this fall, including a restaurant to be
called the American Sector.
To many of the museum visitors who see the
name, however, it is likely to suggest not a historic section of New Orleans but the sections of Germany and Berlin that came under American control
when the defeated country and its capital were divided among the four
victorious Allied powers after World War II.
the Cold War, millions worldwide were familiar with a sign at the famous
Checkpoint Charlie in divided Berlin, where
the words "You are now leaving the American Sector" meant someone
was entering Communist-controlled East Berlin.
work, it seems, is not yet done.
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Monroe News Star | 06.07.09
among us believes the public discussion we're having about higher education
and health-care funding is productive? It's a reflection of this difficult
state budget situation, but is it really productive?
many potential undergraduate, graduate, legal or medical students are we
alarming with the prospects of shrinking higher education and health-care
systems for the foreseeable future? How many professors and health-care
professionals are we driving away or failing to attract? Can these groups
bank their futures on a Louisiana
that can't guarantee a stable source of funding for its higher education
enterprise or health-care delivery system?
two of government's most fundamental missions should be straightforward: How
we educate young adults beyond high school, hopefully giving them the
knowledge to become productive citizens, and how we provide basic health-care
services to citizens in need of those services?
reform agenda was introduced in July 2007, we put forth a simple one-sentence
slogan that we thought succinctly summarized our reason for being: "It's
time to create the state we deserve."
slogan was the outgrowth of a feeling expressed by several of our founding
Board members: How can we build a state that will make all of our citizens
proud to say, "I live in Louisiana."
believe a vibrant higher-education system and a robust health-care community
make our citizens proud of the state they live in. These elements should be
part of a better Louisiana
to which we aspire. That's why in this time of financial challenge, Blueprint
has urged our Legislature to explore every idea to preserve higher education
and health care as best as it can for the upcoming fiscal year.
haven't asked for the proposed funding reductions to be eliminated
completely. We're not that naïve or tone-deaf to the funding realities facing
simply asked the Legislature to consider all options, and not be constrained
by politics or history. Lawmakers' only motivation should be to their
constituents, not partisan politics or whoever happens to be in the
made that request respectfully while also presenting recommendations to make
higher education and health care more efficient and more responsive to the
constituencies they serve.
higher education, we've advocated for a performance-based formula to fund our
institutions. We've expressed our belief that the formula can play a key role
in producing a "right-sized" higher education system that's
smarter, leaner and better at turning out qualified graduates that can
compete and succeed in a global, knowledge-based economy.
also stated our preference to phase in the formula over a few years to give
institutions time to thoughtfully adjust to the incentives embedded in the
formula. In the out years, we believe we'll have a system that's right-sized
through performance, instead of decimated by rushed and short-sighted cuts.
health care, like many stakeholder groups in the state, we've consistently
been on record for improving access to care and the financial efficiency of
care delivery for Louisiana's
recommendations have focused on expanding coverage for low-income adults;
redirecting state funds from underutilized charity hospitals to people;
revamping LSU's health-care role; and reallocating some Disproportionate
Share Hospital funding to local providers that focus on preventative and
primary care. These basic concepts underpin Blueprint's call to better
for those wanting a plan, we've put forth several ideas. Other groups have
also offered suggestions and recommendations for both overall reform and
specific to the current financial challenges facing the state. We recognize
that none of this is easy or simple. All we urge is careful consideration of
all options, with our citizens' best interests at heart.
Penn Warren said "the past is always a rebuke to the present." At
this crucial time in Louisiana's
history, we should not repeat the mistakes of the past.
must press forward and fund higher education and health care as well as we
can fund them, even in this challenging fiscal environment. And we should, in
exchange, expect and require follow through that delivers to Louisiana a better and
more efficient higher-education enterprise and health-care delivery system in
the coming years.
two accomplishments are essential to "creating the state we
Reilly is president and chief operating officer of the Outdoor Division of
Lamar Advertising Co. More information can be found online at www.blueprintlouisiana.org.
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am just wondering:
* Why Louisiana taxpayers still have to give the
owners of the New Orleans Saints millions of dollars each year, when the
Saints just sold out the 70,000-seat Superdome for the fourth straight year?
* How many Louisiana
roads/bridges won’t be repaired, how many Louisiana
schools will continue to be underfunded, and how many Louisiana citizens will go without proper
health care in order for the owners of the New Orleans Saints to receive
their annual taxpayer subsidies?
* How many other Louisiana-based
professional sports teams (outside New
Orleans) receive taxpayer subsidies?
one I can answer. None!
Thompson, retired deputy director
Louisiana Highway Safety Commission
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ROUGE, La. (AP) - A state lawmaker from New Orleans
wants to increase taxes on cigarettes, to produce more revenue for health
care programs in Louisiana.
Karen Carter Peterson's legislation would increase taxes by 50 cents per pack
of cigarettes, and increase taxes on cigars and chewing tobacco. Money raised
with the new taxes would go to health care programs, with half going for
payments to providers in the state Medicaid program.
bill was scheduled for debate on Monday in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Bill 889 can be viewed at http://legis.state.la.us/
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ROUGE — The Senate unanimously approved its version of the state’s $28.7
billion budget late Friday afternoon by restoring some cuts to education and
it did so largely with money that would only become available if the
Legislature passes several tax-related bills this session.
dollars were inserted for Nicholls State University
in Thibodaux and Chabert
though both are still facing record reductions. And money previously included
for Terrebonne and Lafourche agencies survived unscathed.
budget will be reviewed again next week by the House, which endorsed its
version three weeks ago with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts intact
and no possibility of revenue-raising instruments like taxes.
expect the House to reject the Senate’s changes, as is done practically every
session, and the budget to be hammered out in a compromise committee that
consists of members from both chambers.
is what you call high-stakes poker,” said Sen. Reggie Dupre,
the fiscal year that begins July 1, the state is expected to receive $1.3
billion less in revenue, which means programs must be cut or income must be
John Alario, D-Westwego, dean of the Legislature,
said the Senate is prepared to generate money for the state through various
tax changes, but the House is only willing to consider tax reductions.
for Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, Alario said
the administration is “directionless” and that the ongoing session is shaping
up to be the most contentious he’s seen since being elected in 1972.
the past, we had a plan that we went by,” Alario
said. “It was generally a combination of revenue-raising measures and some
cuts within the budget.”
the changes made by senators to House Bill 1, which contains the state
budget, was an additional $2.5 million for Nicholls State.
money, however, is linked to the passage of another bill that would reverse a
reduction lawmakers approved for taxpayers a few years ago.
Bill 335 by Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, would freeze at its present
level until 2012 the amount of federal excess itemized deductions individual
filers can deduct from their state income taxes.
it’s opposed by many members of the House and Jindal, who labels it a tax
increase, the measure has received support from Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, who represents portions of
representatives did try to defeat Senate Bill 335 earlier this week by
co-signing a letter promising the bill would never make it out of the House, Chaisson fired back from the Senate floor.
would never dream of getting 20 senators together in this body to oppose a
representative’s bill before it’s even come up for a vote,” he said.
bill would provide higher education with about $381 million over the next
three years, with $118 million available almost immediately.
budget also arrived on the floor Friday with a $25,000 earmark sponsored by Dupre for the Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning
Disorders at Nicholls
State, which is
vulnerable to deep reductions next fiscal year.
local members of the House sponsored amendments attacking money that was set
aside for the New Orleans Saints, there were few theatrics from their
colleagues in the Senate.
Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City,
who represents portions of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, was
unsuccessful in winning approval of an amendment that would have decreased the
salaries of statewide elected officials and gubernatorial appointees back to
their 2008 levels.
is something that should have been voluntarily offered by the
administration,” Gautreaux said.
Senate did vote to put into play about $86 million from the state’s so-called
“rainy-day fund” for education and health care, a move for which Jindal has
additional $19.4 million was approved for individual earmarks from lawmakers,
including the following local spending measures:
n $10,000 for Veterans Memorial Park
in Lafourche Parish, which brings its total to $30,000.
n $30,000 for the Lafourche Association for
n $40,000 for the Regional Military
Museum in Terrebonne
Parish, bringing the total in House Bill 1 to $100,000.
n $30,000 to the Terrebonne Association for
Retarded Citizens for a total of $100,000.
likewise left alone $40,000 in earmarks for storm-related repairs for
Terrebonne Parish government, which included projects for the Tina Street
Pump Station, Dularge Fire Station, Gibson Community Center
approved by the Senate, the budget now contains about $109 million in cuts
for higher education, down from the $219 million proposed by Jindal. It cuts
$170 million from health care, down from the $400 million approved by the
no preliminary figures were available late Friday, the rosier health-care
figure should bolster Leonard J. Chabert
which was expecting at least a $1.4 million decrease in the House’s version
of the budget.
for jobs, the state’s workforce would shrink by 1,223 jobs under the
legislation adopted by the Senate.
regular session is scheduled to adjourn on June 25, and all budget-related
work must be completed by 6 p.m. that day.
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Louisiana Senate passes $28.7 billion budget; House
ROUGE -- The Senate passed a $28.7 billion state budget Friday that restores
hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed cuts to higher education and
health-care programs but still reduces spending in most state programs.
voted 37-0 to approve House Bill 1 by Rep. Jim Fannin,
D-Jonesboro, after nearly four hours of debate. The move likely sets the
stage for high-stakes negotiations with the House, which approved a vastly
different budget blueprint last month.
the state facing a $1.3 billion revenue drop next fiscal year, the House
agreed to many of the spending cuts proposed by Gov.
Bobby Jindal. But the Senate version patches part of the hole with $86
million from the state's "rainy day" fund and $118 million that
would be gained by delaying a scheduled income-tax break for people who
itemize deductions on their federal returns.
has promised to veto the bill that delays the tax cut and a majority of House
members have promised in writing to oppose it. But Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, said the Senate-passed budget
"represents a reasonable and thoughtful approach to achieving a balanced
budget without raising taxes."
total of $284 million of the Senate's restorations are contingent on the
passage of other measures that are moving through the Legislature.
Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, who chairs the
budget-writing Senate Finance Committee, said some cuts are necessary because
of the national economic downturn, falling energy prices and the multitude of
tax breaks that legislators have approved in recent years.
bill now goes back to the House, which is expected to reject the changes made
by the Senate and send the bill to a compromise committee made up of senior
lawmakers from both chambers.
Senate's passage marks the earliest in recent memory that both chambers have
approved the budget, which typically gets passed in the waning hours of the
session. If the House-Senate conference committee can complete its work
quickly, the bill could be sent to the governor's desk with two weeks or more
remaining before the June 25 adjournment.
could require Jindal to sign the bill, veto it or use his line-item veto
authority to zero out individual spending items while lawmakers are still in Baton Rouge, increasing
the possibility that some of the vetoes could be overridden. Many legislators
are still smarting from last year, when the governor sliced more than 250
spending items from the budget.
it came to the Senate Finance Committee, the bill would have eliminated more
than 3,500 state jobs and cut deeply into health-care, higher education and
other programs. Even with the Senate's restorations, the budget still cuts
$166 million from the Department of Health and Hospitals, $105 million in
state support for public colleges and universities and smaller reductions in
virtually every state department.
state's payroll would shrink by 1,223 jobs.
a 5-percent tuition increase figured in - which has already been approved by
the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee - the total cuts to higher education
are about $79 million with the Senate's amendments.
$19.4 million will pay for hundreds of "member amendments," which
finance everything from small repairs and construction projects to fairs,
festivals, foundations, museums and non-profit groups. That money is
contingent on the Legislature agreeing to raid an expired insurance-incentive
made few changes to the bill during nearly four hours of debate, and turned
back several attempts to reduce the pay of elected officials and top appointees.
One amendment, by Sen. Troy Hebert, D-Jeanerette, would have required college
and university administrators making more than $100,000 a year to take a
5-percent pay cut, with the money going back into college instruction.
amendment, by Sen. Rob Marionneaux Jr., D-Livonia,
would have required legislators, statewide elected officials and cabinet
secretaries to take pay cuts ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent, while an
amendment by Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City,
sought to roll back the salary of the governor's appointees to their level in
three amendments were killed by lopsided margins.
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ROUGE -- Turning up the heat in a battle over plans to build a state teaching
hospital in lower Mid-City, a Louisiana
foundation is airing a radio ad that raises the specter of LSU moving some of
its medical school operations out of New
effort comes months after Dr. Larry Hollier, the LSU Health
chancellor who speaks in the ad, told a New Orleans City Council member by
e-mail that New Orleans risked losing the
medical school to Baton Rouge
if LSU opponents succeeded in scuttling plans to build a new complex
alongside a planned U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.
suggesting that LSU will move it medical school operations to Baton Rouge.
top-ranking LSU official and the state health secretary said a medical school
move is not being discussed.
Hollier wrote to Councilman Arnie
Fielkow on Nov. 19: "If the VA thinks LSU is
not with them and chooses another site, New Orleans
will lose the LSUHSC to BR, and 3,000 faculty homes in New Orleans will go on the market! We are
close to a deal with Our Lady of the Lake to
be our main teaching hospital!"
radio ad does not mention criticism of the planning process or some calls for
Hospital. But, Hollier says, "without a major teaching facility . .
. LSU would have to find some other way to train the medical students, dental
students, allied health professionals, nursing students. If we can't do it in
we would have to move some of our activity to other areas."
ad is paid for by the Louisiana Health Sciences Center Foundation, which is
affiliated with the Health Sciences Center,
a component of the LSU System that includes Louisiana's public hospital system.
officials did not answer inquiries about the cost and duration of the ads.
lot of rhetoric'
Fred Cerise, LSU's vice president for health affairs, said he was not
directly involved in planning the ads, but he said LSU System spokesman
Charles Zewe "has been working with some folks on some things."
said moving the medical school or permanently moving residency slots "is
not anything we've given serious thought to. . . . That's not anything that's
in the cards."
Health Secretary Alan Levine said "a lot of rhetoric (is) flying around
from all kinds of people about the hospital." He said the Jindal
administration has not discussed moving LSU's medical training components.
"I do not think LSU is saying they will do that,
" he said, "and even if they chose to go that path, I'm
unclear where they would get the resources to do it."
to reach Zewe and Hollier were unsuccessful.
Hollier's November threat, Cerise said, "I
can't speak for Larry, but that's probably just him showing his
frustration" with the lagging pace of the hospital project.
J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said, "LSU is saying lots of things to
maintain its death grip on Charity
has already announced its plans to close Earl
Hospital in Baton
Rouge, moving the medical training components of that facility to
Our Lady of the Lake
Center, a private
hospital in the capital city. Our Lady of the Lake spokeswoman Kelly
Zimmerman said that entity's talks with LSU do not include permanent
relocation of New Orleans operations to Baton Rouge.
ad campaign and the disclosure of Hollier's e-mail,
made available on Councilwoman Stacy Head's campaign Web site, come as
several political and financial pieces of the hospital plans near a boiling
state facilities office and LSU are preparing their latest appeal in their
dispute of FEMA's $150 million offer for Hurricane Katrina damage to Charity Hospital. The $1.2 billion budget for
the replacement hospital assumes a $492 million payment from FEMA, with the
outcome affecting the availability of bond financing.
of citizen groups, neighborhood associations and planning organizations
continue to press the state to reconsider gutting Charity and rebuilding
within its shell.
lawmakers are mulling a bill to block land purchases and expropriations in the
Mid-City footprint pending legislative approval of a more detailed
Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, is pushing a separate measure to set up an
independent board to govern the new hospital, with the central question being
the distribution of power among LSU, Tulane University
and other schools whose students are trained in the city's public hospitals.
System President John Lombardi added a new wrinkle to the dynamic last week,
saying, "The Legislature needs to get out of our way" and that LSU
opponents in New Orleans
are threatening the "last opportunity to be a competitive, high-powered
is mediating on the governance issue, including a private meeting this week
between Lombardi and Tulane President Scott Cowen. Levine said he and the
governor remain committed to construction of a new academic teaching
bottom line is we must have a state-of-the-art medical center that provides
all the necessary tools for LSU and Tulane to train their residents, conduct
world-class research, compete for and attract the best medical school
graduates into residency training in Louisiana, " he said.
said House Bill 830, the governance bill that has already passed the lower
chamber, could come before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee next week.
Tucker said he still wants a board that is not run by any one school.
is going no place. They have a billion dollars worth of infrastructure"
in New Orleans,
Tucker said. "We're going to have a teaching hospital -- run by an
independent board, I hope. And it's going to benefit LSU beyond their comprehension."
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