May 9, 2014


Congress to consider charter-school legislation. A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce a bill Wednesday meant to encourage the growth of charter schools across the country, mirroring legislation expected to be taken up in the House later this week. The legislation would consolidate existing federal grant programs that encourage new charter schools to open and that help charter school leaders afford suitable buildings. The bills would also boost charter-school funding from the $250 million budgeted in fiscal 2014 to $300 million, though the Senate version would reserve more of those dollars for replicating existing successful schools as opposed to opening brand new schools.  Washington Post

LA: Privatization plan passes despite scrutiny. As the state’s spending plan made its way through the House Thursday, lawmakers achieved some small success in countering the efforts of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to privatize various state functions. “I will not vote for a budget that takes care of the private entities that we contract with rather than the people of this state,” Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said during a debate regarding contracts with private prisons. The plan, contained in House Bill 1, sponsored by Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, for the next budgetary year starting July 1, totals over $25 billion. It made its way through the House after seven straight hours of debate with a 64-36 vote.  Daily Comet

LA: Inside Report: Privatization plan worries lawmakers. . . Gov. Bobby Jindal was so certain that his structure for dismantling the state’s charity hospital system and shifting patients to private hospital providers would work that he didn’t wait for the federal government’s OK. He kept details close to the vest, handing the LSU Board of Supervisors dozens of blank pages on the Shreveport-Monroe hospital agreement. Then he set his idea into motion. Now that the proposal has met with the federal government’s disapproval, legislators are worried. State Treasurer John Kennedy is worried. The Jindal administration, meanwhile, is focused on finding a resolution before the financial impact hits in fall 2015 — all the time assuring legislators that the state is on sound legal footing.  The Advocate

IL: Illiana Expressway numbers still don’t add up – Editorial. The people who love the idea of building a $1.25 billion tollway between Illinois and Indiana say it’ll be a wonderful public-private partnership. The supporters of the Illiana Expressway, starting with Gov. Pat Quinn, tell taxpayers: relax. But the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which recommended against the project, has said the road isn’t needed and would cost taxpayers $440 million to $1.1 billion because it won’t generate enough in tolls. The Illinois Department of Transportation, controlled by the governor, scoffed at CMAP’s analysis, calling it “simplistic.” Lo and behold, a bi-state agreement released this week shows those predictions were on the mark.  Chicago Tribune

MI: Michigan House approves $453M extra for roads. . . A measure that would have permitted Michigan’s first road tolls — on new lanes or newly built highways — was dropped from the package but could be taken up later. It would have authorized the Michigan Department of Transportation to enter into “public-private agreements” to build new roads that “may be financed by user fees, charges and other revenue.”  After a representative of the National Motorists Association charged the bill was a back-door way to allow toll rates that could be set and increased without oversight by the Legislature, Bolger said it wasn’t crucial to the funding scheme. House Transportation Committee Chairman Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, said the bill needs more work. The main sponsor, Democratic Rep. Marilyn Lane of Fraser, said lawmakers may need to remove the possibility it would permit toll roads.  The Detroit News

MI: Michigan prison food vendor survives union challenge in 2-2 vote. Michigan’s Civil Service Commission deadlocked 2-2 on a union challenge to the state’s privatization of its prison food service, meaning a three-year, $145-million contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia will remain in place. It’s likely the fight over the contract will now move to the state courts, a union spokesman said. AFSCME Privatization Update

OR: Liquor privatization effort gets another $100000 from Distilled Spirits Council. Money continues to flow into the effort to privatize Oregon liquor sales. … Privatization backers, who call themselves Oregonians for Competition, want to allow retail stores with more than 10,000 square feet to be able to stock and sell liquor. The Oregonian