March 7, 2014


Pitfalls Seen in a Turn to Privately Run Long-Term Care. . . At least 26 states, including California, Florida, Illinois and New York, are rolling out mandatory programs that put billions of public dollars into privately managed long-term care plans, in hopes of keeping people in their homes longer, and expanding alternatives to nursing homes. . . “It’s a success story,” said Patti Killingsworth, director of long-term services and supports in Tennessee, pointing out that the state was serving a quarter more people with inexpensive home and community services. But a closer look at Tennessee, widely cited as a model, reveals hidden pitfalls as the system of caring for the frail comes under the twin pressures of cost containment and profit motive. In many cases, care was denied after needs grew costlier — including care that people would have received under the old system. “The notion of prevention saving money in the long run only works if you actually provide care in the long run,” said Gordon Bonnyman, former director of the Tennessee Justice Center, a patient advocacy group. “Tennessee is probably as good as it gets in terms of oversight and financial regulation, and thus I think it is a cautionary tale.”  New York Times

Length of public-private road contracts questioned. Some public-private partnerships involving toll roads are only a few years into long-term contracts but are already falling short on traffic and revenue. Members of a U.S. House panel questioned the length of the contracts and urged accountability for so-called PPPs during a hearing Wednesday, March 5, on Capitol Hill. . . The ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts cut right to the chase on some PPP contracts that last 75 or even 99 years. “I’m concerned about spending tomorrow’s money today,” he said during a discussion of the Indiana Toll Road. Back in 2006, then Gov. Mitch Daniels leased the toll road for 75 years, allowing a private firm from Spain and Australia to keep the toll revenue until 2081 in exchange for operation and maintenance of the roadway. Truckers have seen tolls on the Indiana Toll Road more than double since 2006 to help the private investors recoup the $3.85 billion they spent to control the roadway. Land Line Magazine

NJ: Rutgers study cites ‘stunning’ lack of oversight of companies hired by New Jersey. A “stunning” lack of oversight by New Jersey of companies hired to do work for the state has cost taxpayers money and, in some cases, endangered residents, according to a three-year study released by Rutgers University on Thursday. New Jersey has not devoted enough money or attention to making sure companies that sign contracts with the state do what they say they will do, the report said, even as the state continues to outsource government functions. “The state is failing in its duty of protecting vulnerable citizens from poor service and taxpayers from wasted funds,” the report said.           

KY: Ky. panel backs public-private partnerships to build bridges, other projects. Arnold Simpson of Covington, who said the public-private partnership option could pave the way for tolls to finance a new Ohio River bridge between Cincinnati and Covington. Lexington Herald Leader

PA: GOP says privatizing LCB could aid budget. House Republican leaders are arguing in ongoing negotiations that privatizing the state liquor system would bolster the 2014-15 budget, but political analysts remain skeptical, given the issue’s troubled legislative history. . . Corbett forecast a $1 billion-plus budget shortfall. He said his spending plan, which needs legislative approval, would balance the budget without raising taxes. But officials acknowledge balancing the budget may be difficult, depending on revenue the next few months.  Tribune-Review

TX: Petition Drive Seeks Public Vote on All SA Toll Projects. In a change of tactics for anti toll groups, they have begun circulating petitions calling for an election on a change to the San Antonio City Charter which would require that a public vote be taken before any toll roads or toll lanes could be built inside the city limits, 1200 WOAI news reports. “When they come back and want to toll these roads, they would have to get public approval first,” said Terri Hall, founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, a major anti toll organization, told 1200 WOAI

TX: Texas Voters Reject Red Light Camera Candidates. . .Carona and Harper-BrownTwo of the figures most responsible for the spread of red light cameras in the Lone Star State lost their jobs Tuesday. Texas state Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) and state Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) were both defeated in Republican primary elections.. . .Harper-Brown was richly rewarded for her efforts. Paradigm Traffic Systems, which sells equipment used by the red light camera industry, provided a black 2010 Mercedes E550 sedan and a 2004 Chevy Tahoe to Harper-Brown and her husband William Brown. Harper-Brown insisted she did not have to disclose the gift because the cars were for her husband, an accountant, but WFAA-TV caught her driving the vehicle with her official state license plates. The Texas Values in Action Coalition filed a complaint in 2010, and the Texas Ethics decision decided to fine the lawmaker $2000 in 2012.

NY: De Blasio, in Radio Interview, Defends His Position on Charter Schools. Battered in the press over his position on charter schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday took to a friendly news outlet to defend himself and argue that his actions were being distorted. New York Times

ME: Maine governor vetoes virtual charter school bill. Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed a bill that would put a pause on the creation of virtual charter schools in the state until next year while officials try to come up with a state-run cyber academy. In his veto letter, the Republican governor said Thursday that he opposed that the moratorium because it would halt Maine Connections Academy, a virtual charter that was approved by the state Monday. He said the school is critically needed for hundreds of students, many of whom are “emotionally or physically unable to access a ‘brick and mortar’ option.”  WCSH-TV