Gov. Bobby Jindal is trying for the second year in a row to fill holes in next year’s budget by selling one of the state’s prisons.
According to The Times-Picayune, a House committee on Tuesday will debate Jindal’s proposal to sell Avoyelles Correctional Center for $35 million. If the legislature approves Jindal’s proposal, the state would be allowed to enter into a 20-year contract with the private prison company for operating the prison.
Jindal’s bid to privatize state prisons in Winn and Allen parishes failed during last year’s session due to objections raised by prison workers, many of whom would have been laid off following the prison sale. State Sen. Eric Lafleur, D-Ville Platte, said last year that the “one-time fix” for the budget wasn’t worth the uncertainty about future costs the state could incur from the private prisons, costs that haven’t been specified in the legislation that allows for Avoyelles to go private.
“The sale of state assets has been championed, but that’s one-time money. It’s a lie, and it’s misleading the public,” LaFleur said at a 2011 legislative breakfast sponsored by the Louisiana Assciation of Business and Industry.
Some legislators who first heard Jindal’s newest prison proposal amid appropriations hearings in March have already raised concerns about the plan, according to The Advocate, citing disturbing details about the Corrections Corporation of America, the publicly traded largest private prison company in America, and its stipulation that states doing business with CCA should keep prisons at a minimum 90 percent occupancy:
The state Department of Corrections is slated to receive $445 million in next year’s budget, a more than $53 million decrease from the current spending year.
The agency would save money by shedding employees at the privatized and closed prisons. The actual profit from selling Avoyelles Correctional Center would not be pushed back into the budget.
State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, noted that Corrections Corporation of America approached 48 states about purchasing prisons following Ohio’s recent sale of a prison for $72.7 million.
Louisiana apparently was among the states to receive an overture from CCA. The corporation’s pitch included receiving assurances that states would keep the purchased prisons full of inmates.
“That bothers me when we want folks to go back into society. It really gives me angst,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post, in a sarcastic post titled “Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Private Prison!”, quotes directly from CCA’s fourth-quarter investor report, a document that urges investment in private prisons for the following reasons:
1. High recidivism 2. One in every 100 U.S. adults are in prison or jail. 3. At current imprisonment rates, prison populations would grow by about 80,400 between 2012 and 2017, or by more than 13,000 per year, on average. 4. Constraints on new public prison construction and compelling value proposition have benefited the partnership corrections industry. 5. No meaningful, new competitor has entered industry in 20 years. 6. Filling Vacant Beds Drives Earnings. 7. Local governments reduce ongoing and long-term pension obligations
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.