Today, Governor Bobby Jindal addressed the Lafayette Kiwanis Club where he laid out the Louisiana Way Forward for facing the state's long-term budget challenges and national economic challenges so that Louisiana's economy continues to outperform the South and nation. Governor Jindal emphasized the difference between Louisiana's and Washington, D.C.'s approach to the national economic challenges.
Governor Jindal said, "In Louisiana, we're pursuing reforms and efficiencies that make government do more with less and live within its means -- just like our Louisiana businesses and families are doing right now. In Washington, we see the exact opposite approach. While we continue to hear the focus in the nation's capital is on "jobs, jobs, jobs' the only thing we see them do is spend, spend, spend.
"The Louisiana Way we are taking to move our state forward through these economic challenges is exactly opposite the Washington Way. In Louisiana, when our revenue is down we really only have two choices -- raise taxes on our people or our businesses to keep government spending the same, or tighten our belt and find savings. We will not raise taxes and balance the budget on the backs of the Louisiana people. We will not follow Washington's lead and spend money we don't have or borrow money we can't pay back.
"The Louisiana Way Forward through our current budget challenges will build the foundation for a stronger and more accountable state government. As our economy grows we will be in a position to invest in programs that produce results, not simply restore funding to get back to the status quo. The Louisiana Way Forward is bold. It will require change and it will require reform. But, the outcome will be the New Louisiana we have been working toward since day one -- a place where each and every one of our children has the opportunity to pursue their dreams right here at home."
Recounting a number of statistics that show the strength of Louisiana's economy in the past two years, Governor Jindal said the results are not an accident, instead they are the result of his administration's concerted and unwavering effort to grow the state's economy by keeping taxes low, reducing government spending and providing businesses with the tools they need to succeed in a global economy.
Governor Jindal said that this approach has resulted in the creation of more jobs for the people of Louisiana. In fact, since taking office, Governor Jindal has announced economic development wins that will create more than 35,000 new direct and indirect jobs, and generate more than $4.6 billion in new capital investment. In the Acadiana Region alone, Governor Jindal has announced economic development wins that will create 235 new direct jobs, 585 new indirect jobs, and $424 million in new capital investment.
Governor Jindal cited specific examples his administration is taking in the areas of health care and higher education to do more with less and still keep moving Louisiana forward.
Emphasizing federal reductions to the state's healthcare funding that make up the largest part of the state's budget challenges, the Governor highlighted an agreement he announced recently between LSU and Our Lady of the Lake Hospital (OLOL) that will save the state money and transform the way healthcare is delivered in Louisiana.
The Governor said if the faulty federal FMAP formula is not quickly corrected in Washington, D.C., it will cost the state $500 million a year in Medicaid funding, which will impact services for the poorest in our state, and often those who need care the most. He also said that federal changes to disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding will cost the state around $200 million in federal health care funds, which will directly impact LSU hospitals, rural hospitals and mental health care services.
Governor Jindal said the state will make a $14 million investment to expand OLOL as part of a public-private partnership that will save the state $400 million by building onto existing facilities to better-serve Medicaid and uninsured patients in Baton Rouge while improving the educational experience of LSU's graduate medical school students.
The Governor called the agreement the first major step in addressing Louisiana's healthcare challenges and he said it will help shape the vision of what a modern, transformative system of care will look like in the state.
Governor Jindal noted that the state is working to transition the Louisiana Medicaid program from the current fee-for service delivery system to two integrated care models. One, he said, is an option for an enhanced fee-for-service Coordinated Care Network, and the other permits a Coordinated Care Network to choose to function as a prepaid integrated health network.
Governor Jindal said, "Our vision is designed around key principles like consumer choice, community leadership, aligned incentives for improved outcomes, and changing consumer behavior.
"The most important attribute is that our Medicaid enrollees can expect greater coordination of care between their primary physician and specialists required to manage chronic conditions and improve overall health."
On higher education, Governor Jindal noted that Postsecondary Education Review Commission (PERC) -- charged with reforming higher education in the state -- adopted a report last week containing recommendations on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our higher education system.
In PERC's report, they recommended that colleges and universities be granted limited operational autonomy and the ability to establish tuition and fees within guidelines in exchange for meeting specific performance goals.
Governor Jindal said, "This is an important goal that we fully support so higher education is able to operate with greater autonomy. However, we must connect this autonomy to accountability and ensure our higher education institutions are working to correct their unacceptably high drop out rates.
Louisiana is the only state in the nation that requires its public colleges and universities to seek a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to adjust tuition to levels comparable with other states.
Governor Jindal said, "Unfortunately we are also singled out as one of the worst states in terms of outcomes for our college students, with the second to last graduation rate in the South and likely the nation. This is unacceptable and must be addressed."
In 2005, Virginia passed the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act. All of the state's public institutions were eligible for increased autonomy over their daily operations, but to qualify, each had to commit to meet a series of state higher education policy goals and performance measures.
The Governor said this concept could serve as a model for Louisiana to implement many of PERC's recommendations for not only streamlining functions to save money, but improving outcomes for Louisiana students.
Governor Jindal said, "As we consider granting higher education greater flexibility in setting tuition, we must do everything possible to ensure the value of the education that our students are paying for. We must ensure that our students' higher education will lead to a marketable education credential and the skills that will enable them to compete in the 21st century global economy. A higher education system that has more autonomy and produces more results for our students will mark the Louisiana Way forward in post-secondary education."