July 8, 2014


College Group Run for Profit Looks to Close or Sell Schools. Facing heavy losses and a crackdown by government agencies, Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest for-profit operators of trade schools and colleges, will largely cease operating under an agreement with the federal Education Department. . . .The California attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, sued the company last year, charging, among other things, that it had lied to students and investors about job placement rates for its graduates and about its financial condition. For months, the Education Department has demanded job placement data from Corinthian, to no avail, prompting the department to threaten last month to cut off federal money to the company. Like other for-profit school chains, Corinthian relies overwhelmingly on government funds — $1.4 billion last year in federal student loans and financial aid to low-income students, out of $1.6 billion in revenue. So a cutoff would have quickly put the company out of business, preventing students from finishing courses and abruptly leaving thousands of people unemployed.  New York Times

TX: As Perry Exits, Texas GOP Shifting Away From Toll Roads. . . In the new platform, Republican delegates removed a provision backing “the legitimate construction of toll roads in Texas” and replaced it with language opposing some aspects of toll projects in Texas, particularly the use of public money to subsidize private entities. . . . “There is an enormous amount of toll fatigue in Texas,” said Susan Fletcher, a Republican delegate from Collin County who supported the new platform language. . . . The Republican platform urges lawmakers to “adequately fund our highways” without tolls and asserts the party’s opposition to “the use of taxpayer money to subsidize, guarantee, prop up or bail out any toll projects, whether public or private.”  Texas Tribune

WA: Two years after liquor privatization, booze in Washington state costs more. In one of the most expensive campaigns ever waged, retailers pumped tens of millions of dollars into convincing voters that private sales would benefit them more than leaving sales in the hands of the state. Now, however, Washington state residents pay more for a liter of alcohol than residents in any other state. And though the initiative promised to fill the tax hole left by the absence of a monopoly, Washingtonians are spending less on liquor than the state had projected.  Washington Post (blog)

NJ: NJ court rules against union’s effort to stop state lottery privatization. . . Despite months of objections from Democratic lawmakers and union leaders, the state announced last June that it signed a 15-year contract for a private company, Northstar New Jersey, to manage the sales and marketing branches of the lottery. . . . The union claimed the plan violated the state constitution and included a bid that was unlawfully approved by the state Treasury Department. The three-judge panel ruled against both arguments today.  NJ.com

PA: Liquor privatization effort kicked? With the passage last week of a state budget, Republicans’ bid to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business is looking tapped out.  The Morning Call

NC: For NCDOT Official, A Thorough Grilling Over I-77 Tolls. . . Since state officials signed a preliminary contract on June 26, 2014, with Spanish contractor Cintra Infraestructura, the DOT has continued to work on a final financial deal, which could close by Dec. 31. The DOT is looking at a toll lane project with a private partner because it says there’s not enough money to pay for all the state’s highway needs. “In our recent re-prioritization of projects we had 3,100 transportation projects from across the state,” Rochelle said. Altogether they would cost $70 billion to build. That’s money the state doesn’t have, he said. . . . The potentially high cost of tolls is a major sticking point for opponents. The only data made public so far about the project – a 2012 report from Stantec, a consultant for the DOT – estimates that drivers making the full 26-mile commute at peak hour between Mooresville and Charlotte would pay $9 inbound and $11.75 outbound. Gilroy borrowed a term common elsewhere, calling the toll lanes “Lexus lanes.” Those who can’t afford to pay or won’t pay will be “condemned to congestion.”  WFAE

MI: Charter school authorizers could be suspended for poor performance. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has a clear message for charter school authorizers across the state: Shape up or prepare to face stiff consequences. The Michigan Department of Education said Monday afternoon that Flanagan, the state’s top schools officer, would use his powers under state law to prevent authorizers from opening new charter schools if they don’t comply with transparency, accounting and academic requirements. “It’s my authority in state law and I will be using it,” Flanagan said, citing a recent investigation by the Detroit Free Press into charter school practices.  MLive.com