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$25B budget debate shifts to Louisiana Senate PDF Print E-mail
Monday, May 13 2013 - 1:47 pm
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Action on crafting Louisiana's nearly $25 billion budget shifts to the Senate this week, after lawmakers in the House wrapped up work on a bipartisan compromise for how to pay for state programs and services next year.

The Senate's financial analysts were combing through the details Monday of the House version of the 2013-14 budget passed late last week, with Senate Finance Committee hearings on the proposal slated to begin later in the week.

In recent years, senators often have tossed nearly all the work done by their counterparts in the House and sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal on how he wanted the spending plans to look. But lawmakers in the House have shown a strong front against being marginalized and could use procedural moves to block the budget if they disagree with what the Senate passes.

The leader of the Senate's budget negotiations, Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue, offered kind initial words on the House proposal, calling it an improvement from the spending plans Jindal submitted for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"I think the budget looks better than it did when (lawmakers) first got it," Donahue, R-Mandeville, said Monday.

He didn't say whether he thought senators would support the House version, however, saying he needed more time to evaluate what was passed.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have criticized Jindal's proposal to pay for continuing programs with $500 million in financing from property sales, legal settlements, fund sweeps and other items that haven't yet happened and that would only drum up money for one year.

The House compromise would replace those dollars with money from trimming tax break programs, cuts to travel and contracts at state agencies and $200 million expected from a tax amnesty program. Many of the piecemeal dollars proposed by Jindal would instead be used for debt payments, construction work and highway projects, considered one-time expenses.

To make the numbers balance, however, the budget plan would use some short-term fixes, like the dollars from the amnesty program, and assumes $90 million in improved revenue estimates that haven't yet been projected.

Questions have been raised about whether the numbers work. The Legislature Fiscal Office analysis, for example, doesn't confirm estimates of how much could be raised by the amnesty program, saying the collection rates over the 30-month period were unclear.

The amnesty program would let delinquent taxpayers pay overdue taxes with eliminated or lessened penalties as a way to generate upfront cash for the budget

Jindal opposes pieces of the House compromise budget that he considers a tax hike and says he will veto changes to tax break programs that would raise new dollars for spending.

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Robideaux speaks on Jindal tax package PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 02 2013 - 8:11 pm

House leader awaits Fiscal Office analysis

Capitol news bureau
April 02, 2013

The sponsor of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax package said Monday that fiscal analysis of the plan will be key to the package’s success, but that the governor’s influence also carries weight.

“If the governor’s pushing something, it’s never dead on arrival,” state Rep. Joel Robideaux said. “I’m not arguing that there’s not hurdles or there’s not a lot of fixes that need to be made.”

Robideaux, R-Lafayette, stopped short of declaring that the package meets the governor’s goal of generating enough revenue to support a state budget that funds hospitals, colleges and other public services. The governor has said the complicated plan of tax swaps will be revenue neutral, ensuring there is no effect on the budget.

Robideaux said he awaits the Legislative Fiscal Office’s number-crunching determination. The office is staffed with economists who look at the financial effect of proposed legislation.

“I’m not going to say it’s revenue neutral until I’ve gotten the numbers from the Fiscal Office,” Robideaux said.

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IT'S A NEW YEAR PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, January 31 2013 - 6:39 pm

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State, Local Leaders Announce Plans for Future of Inpatient Behavioral Health Services in Northshore, Greater New Orleans Area PDF Print E-mail
Monday, December 03 2012 - 11:00 am

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals joined St. Tammany Parish leaders and area legislators today to announce a final agreement allowing the parish to use the property at Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville, with Meridian Behavioral Health Services assuming control of inpatient beds at the hospital and outpatient services on the property continuing.

"Our commitment has always been to maintain services through this transition, and this agreement is a perfect example our ability to work closely with local officials and other partners to deliver health care services more efficiently and better tailored to that community's needs," said DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "With local governance and Meridian's expertise, we are confident that this will be a smooth transition and a better pathway for sustainable mental health services in the area."

In July, the State announced plans to cease operations at Southeast in response to Congress sharply reducing Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding for the Medicaid program. Those plans called for the continued operation of these services through agreements with private providers.

The State has now signed an agreement giving St. Tammany Parish the authority to manage all property at Southeast, and has signed an agreement for Meridian to operate 58 psychiatric inpatient beds - 42 youth and 16 adult. A separate agreement between St. Tammany Parish and Meridian allows Meridian to operate these 58 beds on the Southeast campus. These agreements will also allow the current outpatient and group home services providers on the Southeast campus to remain in place. Meridian will begin operating these beds at Southeast effective Jan. 2, 2013. DHH will discontinue all management of Southeast effective Jan 1, 2013.

Meridian will give hiring preference to current Southeast employees where comparable jobs are available, and has already begun the process of interviewing employees.

"We are incredibly pleased that after five months of hard work we are moving forward with a solution for Southeast Louisiana Hospital," said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. "This is a solution that continues to provide necessary services to this Parish and the Northshore, as well as keeps hundreds of jobs in this community. This is a great thing for St. Tammany Parish, but in the end, the patients and families of those that desperately need those services will benefit the most."

"Southeast is a valuable part of our community that provides needed mental health services, and it is also a vital piece of our local economy," said State Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville. "I'm pleased with this outcome, which keeps the hospital open, keeps jobs in our parish and is a better value for the taxpayers."

"Meridian Behavioral Health Services [MBHS] is proud to provide high quality behavioral health care services to patients and their families in the Southeast region of Louisiana," said Wesley Mason, CEO, Meridian Behavioral Health Systems. "MBHS is excited to expand operations into Louisiana and help meet the needs of adolescents and adults where behavioral services are definitely needed, including acute care and youth residential services."

"This transition brings on a strong partner, Meridian, who will help us maintain safety net behavioral health care services in St. Tammany Parish while assuming more control at the local level," said State Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville.

The State is currently finalizing arrangements with two other providers - Community Care Hospital and River Oaks Hospital -- to expand existing bed capacity in New Orleans through beds previously housed at Southeast. Community Care Hospital will operate eight beds for adults and River Oaks Hospital will operate eight youth beds at their existing facilities effective Jan. 2, 2013.

The State has also entered an agreement with Washington-St. Tammany Hospital in Bogalusa to operate eight adult beds on their campus.

Overall, this series of agreements maintains the State's inpatient psychiatric bed capacity.

In October, DHH transferred 94 patient beds that were previously at Southeast to East Louisiana Mental Health System (34) and Central Louisiana State Hospital (60), and several staff members previously employed at Southeast accepted jobs at these two hospitals.

The State has increased and eased access to behavioral health care services statewide with the launch of the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership in March. The Partnership operates one central hotline - 1-800-424-4399 - that residents can call to find mental health or addiction treatment providers near them.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog at, Twitter at and search for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Facebook.

Thursday, November 15 2012 - 3:28 pm

Available to undergraduate students in Louisiana=s universities at the junior or senior level for students with a declared major in civil engineering.  The applicant must be in good standing academically and have a professed interest in the transportation field as a vocation.  This interest must be demonstrated in a one page description relating academic choices and career goals.


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