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PAR Offers Recommendations to Jindal’s Team

PAR research is being used to help shape Gov.-Elect Bobby Jindal’s reform agendas in the areas of government finance, ethics and health care. PAR staff members are serving on and have presented policy recommendations to several of Jindal’s key transition team committees.

“We will continue to seize every opportunity to share our research findings with policymakers and citizens around the state in order to help Louisiana implement solutions to some of its persistent problems,” PAR President Jim Brandt said. “Getting our ideas out there front and center early on in this administration sets the stage for meaningful reforms in several areas of government.”

Brandt is serving as vice chairman of the Government and Fiscal Reform Advisory Council, and Senior Health Care Policy Analyst David Hood is serving on the Health Care Reform Advisory Council. These appointments offer PAR the opportunity to share its independent and objective research findings with the teams shaping Jindal’s policy agenda.

In addition, several PAR Board directors are serving on transition advisory councils as members and in leadership positions.

Brandt presented recommendations to the Ethics Reform Advisory Council on Dec. 4, and Research Director Jennifer Pike presented recommendations to the Government and Fiscal Reform Advisory Council on Nov. 28. The following are the specific recommendations offered.

Government and Fiscal Reform

State Financing of Local Projects

  • Devise a state-aid formula based on local need, revenue ability and tax effort to replace existing subsidy programs.
  • Limit state aid for local capital outlay projects to serious emergencies and statewide programs and provide local governments with the mechanisms and capacity to fund their own projects.

Capital Outlay

  • Overhaul the capital outlay budget process so that the budget includes only top-priority, state-level projects that have had thorough feasibility studies and can reasonably be expected to be undertaken and funded during the fiscal year.
  • Eliminate the behind-the-scenes decision-making regarding funding for capital outlay projects.

Budgeting

  • Enable colleges and universities to set reasonable fees within certain guidelines.
  • Strengthen the state’s performance budgeting initiative by re-evaluating and revising budget-unit performance indicators to ensure they are meaningful, useful and integral to the budget-making process.

Transparency

  • Develop a user-friendly, publicly accessible Web site detailing current information on all recoveryspending to include funding trail, selection criteria for contracts, entities awarding and receiving contracts, and progress updates.
  • Make all contracts with state agencies and departments available online on a single Web site for unfettered, no-cost access to the public.
  • Require that video recordings and video broadcasts of all legislative floor proceedings and committee meetings be made available to the public on the Internet at no charge.

Accountability and Oversight

  • Redesign the Office of Inspector General to give it statutory authority, full funding for sufficient staff and protection from political repercussions.

Ethics – Personal Financial Disclosure for Public Officials 

  • Require annual personal financial disclosure reports from all elected state officials, legislators, judges, certain salaried gubernatorial appointees, administrative heads of state agencies, constitutional elected and appointed parish officers (Assessor, Coroner, District Attorney, Sheriff and Registrar of Voters), officials elected parishwide, and candidates or nominees to such positions.
  • Require personal financial reports to disclose the following:
    • Business associations of the person, his or her spouse and minor children
    • The amount and services provided for each source of income over $5,000
    • Property valued over $10,000
    • Transfers of property over $5,000
    • Most loans (as defined in the Ethics Code) over $10,000
    • Amounts should be shown in categories of:
      1. $5,000 – $9,999
      2. $10,000 – $24,999
      3. $25,000 – $49,999
      4. $50,000 – $99,999
      5. $100,000 – $199,999
      6. $200,000 – $499,999
      7. $500,000 – $999,999
      8. $1,000,000 or over
  • Require disclosure reports to the filed with the ethics agency and authorize the agency to assess late fees and civil penalties similar to those for campaign finance reports.
  • Provide criminal penalties for false filing of disclosure reports.
  • Require legislators to report in detail anything of economic value that they, their immediate family or any business in which any of the foregoing persons has a 5 percent ownership derive from any permitted contract, subcontract or transaction with the state or any political subdivision.

For additional information or to obtain a copy of any of PAR’s research reports, visit PAR’s Web site atwww.la-par.org.

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