An alliance of influential business leaders and lawyers from across the state has some advice for state lawmakers coping with a projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming session: Free up statutorily protected funds, increase college tuition and, among other suggestions, get rid of more than 9,000 state employees.
Members of Blueprint Louisiana, a political lobbying organization founded by three well-known Lafayette businessmen, spoke to the Baton Rouge Press Club Feb. 14 to offer their direction on how to effectively deal with the state’s budget woes. The capital city’s press club heard from several of the group’s Lafayette members, including Blueprint Louisiana chairman Bill Fenstermaker, CEO of C.H. Fenstermaker and Associates; lawyer Clay Allen and businessman Matt Stuller.
The recommendations from the state lobbying group include the following, along with potential savings, as listed on the Blueprint Louisiana website:
• Open up statutorily protected funding — $100+ million
• Reduce state workers by 9,486 over two years — $235+ million
• Reform state employee and teacher retirement systems — $25+ million
• Be “smart on crime” by revising outdated sentencing and parole guidelines — $2 million-$6 million
• Implement a Medicaid coordinated care system — $20+ million
• Reform the charity hospital system — $50+ million
• Maximize federal matching funds for current state health expenditures — $125-$575 million (which includes new revenues)
• Implement a hospital provider assessment to generate new state dollars for the federal match — $245 million (potential new revenues)
• Strike the right balance of institutional, community and home-based care — $25+ million
— Heather Miller