February 2, 2015


TX: In Texas contracting, failure is an option. Yet the questionable no-bid contract awarded to the Austin tech firm 21CT for Medicaid fraud detection software is just the latest chapter in Texas’ troubled adventures in outsourcing. . . . For two decades, Texas has pursued a wave of privatization of public functions with the belief that corporations could save taxpayer money while improving the delivery of essential government services. But multiple contracts representing billions in public dollars have blown up in the state’s face, leading to lawsuits, ethics investigations, wasted funds and frustrated Texans. The pattern that emerges is one of famously business-friendly Texas repeatedly fumbling its efforts to hold the businesses it hires accountable. Fort Worth Star Telegram

OH: Gov. John Kasich wants to add teeth to charter school oversight rules and let charters seek local tax levies. Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal Monday would offer charter schools in Ohio two new potential funding sources — a $25 million facilities fund and the ability to seek local tax levies from voters — while putting a greater focus on charter school sponsors, or authorizers, as a way to improve school quality. Kasich’s proposals, to be unveiled Monday afternoon, will put increased pressure on the sponsors — agencies that help create and oversee the charter schools — to be better at that task. cleveland.com

OH: Governors stump for tolls on Brent Spence Bridge.The governors of Kentucky and Ohio held a press conference Wednesday to promote tolls to fund the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge that carries Interstates 75 and 71 across the Ohio River. As OOIDA and anti-toll groups have already pointed out, tolls would not just pay for bridge construction and maintenance, but also guarantee profits to a private investor. Land Line Magazine

NY: Group says Cuomo’s education reforms don’t ‘cut the mustard’. The Alliance for Quality Education on Friday issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the governor’s education agenda, criticizing his proposals to change the teacher evaluation, lift the cap on charter schools and offer a tax credit for donations to private schools. “In a moment of rhetorical flourish designed to justify his entire agenda, he called the current teacher evaluation system ‘baloney,’ but his own agenda simply does not cut the mustard,” said a statement from the organization. . . . The group also panned the governor’s other proposals including lifting the charter school cap. The organization said a proposal to make sure charter schools aren’t “cherry picking” the best students from public schools won’t be enforced even if enacted. It said a $100 million tax credit for contributions to private schools would be a giveaway to the wealthy and takeover of failing schools by private outside entities won’t work without funding. The Alliance for Quality Education concluded that market-based reforms don’t work in education. PostStar.com

LA: Prison privatization might save Baton Rouge money, but is there a higher cost?. . . Several council members say that having an outside, private company build and operate the parish prison is something the city should at least look into, particularly in light of how much money it could save. But the privatization of prisons is controversial: While communities typically want to see fewer citizens imprisoned, the business model of a private prison relies on keeping people locked up. And in East Baton Rouge, where the sheriff has the ultimate say on how the prison is operated, it could be a tough political challenge for the city-parish and sheriff to make a change that drastic and relinquish control over the facility. NOLA.com