March 2, 2015


McDonald Tells Congress VA Will Not Completely Privatize Health Care. Veterans Affairs Department Secretary Bob McDonald told lawmakers on Thursday he has no plans to grow the agency’s payroll or bureaucracy, or to completely privatize VA health care. McDonald also countered the perception that VA officials and personnel deliberately would thwart programs such as the Veterans Choice program – which permits veterans to get care from non-VA providers. . . . ” We’ve got to have a combination of VA care and non-VA care to properly care for our veterans.” But McDonald, responding to lawmaker and veterans’ groups concerns that VA may promote the Choice Act as a substitute for VA healthcare, said leaders view it only as a supplement to the system.

TX: North Texas lawmakers taking aim at toll roads. North Texans with toll road fatigue have found champions in the Texas House. Reps. Jeff Leach, Scott Sanford and Matt Shaheen are pushing a series of nine bills that aim to dismantle the bureaucratic and financial mechanisms that have paved the way for a litany of toll projects in the state. Dallas Morning News

CA: Charter school group is political force in LA Unified board election. In Tuesday’s election, this role has shifted to a statewide charter school group, which is raising money, sending mailers and rallying parents in an effort to become a permanent political force.  Los Angeles Times

IN: LaPorte, Lake counties move ahead on Toll Road. LaPorte and Lake counties are pushing ahead in their effort to gain control of the Indiana Toll Road, taking their bid proposal to their respective governmental bodies for approval. . . . In addition to considering the final bid, officials from both counties will be voting on the structure of the Northern Indiana Toll Road Authority, the not-for-profit entity separate from government that would oversee the highway’s private operator. The NITRA would be supervised by a board of directors made up of elected officials from both counties as well as non-elected professionals with substantial experience overseeing large scale projects in fields like tourism, hospitality, transportation, education and health care. There would also be one member of the board representing the profit operator of the Toll Road, officials said. The Toll Road’s current private operator, ITR Concession Co., is in bankruptcy and putting the lease up for sale to help satisfy creditors. USB Bank is conducting and coordinating the bidding process. South Bend Tribune

LA: Regents look at privatizing public universities. Years of deep cuts to state funding for Louisiana’s colleges and universities — and the threat of even further reductions in the near future — have some leaders looking at drastic measures that could change the face of Louisiana higher education. One idea that has recently been floated: Why not encourage some of the state’s public schools to go private? The Advocate

FL: Privatizing prisons could be Scott’s end game – opinion. . . The cynic in me is starting to believe that the Scott administration doesn’t want to fix the problems at the department and doesn’t want to fully investigate the abuse that has been and still is occurring. In the meantime, people in state supervision are dying, and the state is exposed to costly litigation and liability. Perhaps this is the means to an end, and Scott’s true mission is to fully privatize Florida’s prisons — at any cost.