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Jindal signs state budget

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 Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed HB 1 into law and issued line item vetoes.

Governor Jindal said, “We worked with the Legislature to pass another responsible, balanced budget that reduces the size of state government without raising raise taxes. This new budget increases funding in K-12 and higher education and health care services. Today, we have a booming economy and more people are working in Louisiana than ever before. We will continue to make government work harder for our people at a lower cost to ensure Louisiana remains an environment where companies want to invest and where people want to live and raise a family.”

The Jindal Administration has worked since 2008 to make state government more efficient and productive through efficiencies and innovative technology improvements, which has saved taxpayers millions of dollars and allows for more investment in health care services, education and infrastructure.

These investments include a nearly $120 million increase to the MFP (Louisiana’s school funding formula) – the largest increase to the MFP in Louisiana history – as well as an increase of more than$148 million for higher education to better prepare students for new jobs in Louisiana. The higher education total includes $40 million for the WISE Fund, which will better prepare college students for future jobs in Louisiana and help connect them to quality employers around the state. It also includes more than $6 million in additional funding for Southern and Grambling. In all, total funding for higher education in the FY 15 budget is $2.3 billion – an increase of nearly seven percent from last year.

The budget also includes nearly $27 million in merit pay increases for state employees, as well as two major consolidation initiatives that will bring significant savings to the state.  The first is the consolidation of the Office of State Purchasing and the centralization of procurement in the Division of Administration (DOA).  This project is estimated to save more than $1.6 million a year through the continued expansion of electronic payment options for state vendors.  The consolidation of IT services into one centralized agency will save another $23.4 million in FY15 by reducing duplication of technology and centralizing standards across the state.

The budget also increases funding for important health care services. It provides nearly $26 million in new funding for individuals with disabilities, opening nearly 2,500 waiver slots for both individuals with developmental disabilities and people who are elderly or have adult-onset disabilities. The budget will also fund care for more of Louisiana’s terminally ill patients with an investment of $500,000 to hospice providers. Additionally, more than $24 million will increase the funding for intensive care for children and some adults with autism.  DHH will also invest more than $5 million for pre-natal care for pregnant women under 200 percent of the federal poverty level, ensuring proper pre-natal care for those who most need it.

“Thanks to the work of the Legislature, we have a fiscally sound budget that balances strategic spending reductions with common sense, practical solutions that protect important services for the people of Louisiana,” said Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols. “To continue these types of investments, Louisiana must continue to improve the way we do business – we won’t stop here. We will continue to make government more efficient for taxpayers.

“In total, these investments and efficiencies create a budget that requires more than $100 million less than last year’s budget. A more efficient, streamlined government can and will be able to better provide and protect critical services for the citizens of Louisiana.”

Overview
• The FY 15 Budget includes $25.51 billion in total funding;
• In terms of fulltime employees (or FTEs) funded in the budget, the total has fallen from 93,554 to 63,289 – a reduction of 30,265, or 32.4 percent since 2008.
• Total positions (T.O) have fallen from 54,208 in FY 14 to 53,170 for FY 15 – a reduction in 1,038 positions (a 1.9 percent decrease).

Savings/Efficiencies:
• Consolidation of the Office of State Purchasing and centralization of procurement in the Division of Administration for a savings of more than $1.6 million;
• IT Consolidation across state agencies saving more than $23.4 million through the use of technology and modernization of equipment;
• Continued savings of more than $100,000 from the consolidation of administrative office functions of GOHSEP, DPS, and OJJ;
• Savings $465,000 at the Department of Children and Family Services by establishing regional training hubs in major cities;
• DCFS has also saved $2.2 Million in TANF funds, which were re-directed to the LA4 pre-K program in DOE to support the education of Louisiana’s four-year-old children;
• $429 million reduction of the state’s UAL state retirement system debt as a result of the public-private partnership hospitals, which are reducing costs and providing more access to quality health care services across the state.

Other Key HB1 Investments Include:
• $94 million of continued investments to fully fund the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), Louisiana’s merit-based scholarship program that awards students with money for college tuition;
• $5 million investment in the LSU Agriculture Center;
• $3.5 million investment to continued access for students to Advanced Placement (AP) courses, career and technical education opportunities, core academic and test preparation courses, and other college credit courses either not available from a student’s current school or students attending C, D, or F rated schools;
• $1 million increased investment to rural hospitals across Louisiana to provide better access to healthcare for people who live in rural areas of the state;
• Investment of $9.8 million in long-term personal care services;
• Annualizing 150 Community Choice Waiver Slots that were approved in FY 13 and phased in during FY 14 – many of which will provide services to individuals in Louisiana within the permanent support housing program;
• $1.1 million for the Individual and Family Support program in the Human Service Districts, which helps people with developmental disabilities live in their own homes or with their families in the community;
• $1.5 million investment for the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program and U.S. Department of Defense transition support;
• More than $22 million in pay raises for Louisiana State Police commissioned officers;
• $7 million for local sheriffs’ departments for secure housing of offenders to help further ensure public safety;
• $2.7 million for school districts to help with technology services;
• $1.4 million to strengthen technology in public libraries;
• $250K in state funds for Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network (LATAN) to provide assistive technology services to individuals with disabilities relating to long-term care, housing, employment, education and independent living support;
• $7.7 million increase in investment for Parish Councils on Aging and Senior Centers to support senior citizens, totaling $16.9 million in funding;
• $10 million investment in new cadet classes of the Louisiana State Police Training Academy;
• $1.7 million investment in new class of LDWF agents;