March 31, 2015


Senate Adopts Budget With Cuts That Don’t Privatize Medicare. The U.S. Senate adopted a fiscal 2016 budget that calls for $5.1 trillion in spending cuts to achieve balance in 10 years, while avoiding proposals to partially privatize Medicare as many Republicans brace for re-election. Bloomberg

IL: Tom Kacich: Going private has been tried before. That idea that state Sen. Bill Brady has to turn Illinois’ nine public universities into private, not-for-profit institutions and to use their state appropriations to provide tuition support? A version of it was tried about 10 years ago at Miami University in Ohio. It ended after about four years. Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

FL: Florida prisons are in a state of perpetual crisis. . . Under Scott’s watch, the juvenile justice system has been totally privatized. Youth Services International now runs the state’s juvenile system, receiving numerous state contracts despite the fact that Youth Services International and its sister companies also have been the focus of serious allegations. Just last year after a scathing report by the Huffington Post of mounting abuse at Youth Services International-managed juvenile justice centers, a state Senate panel heard criticism of both the company and state oversight of its operation. The resulting report led to the closure of one juvenile center and the banning of Youth Services International from operating juvenile centers in another Florida county. Meanwhile in Tallahassee, Scott and his supporters were extending their privatization plans into other corners. Florida Times-Union

FL: Orlando airport panel votes to keep TSA. The TSA could keep its job checking passengers for weapons and contraband at Orlando International Airport after a committee decided Monday that the agency shouldn’t be replaced with privately hired security guards. Orlando Sentinel

FL: Legislature opens door to for-profit mental-health services. The proposals would change everything from the way the mentally ill are treated by law enforcement, doctors, child welfare workers and courts to the way the state matches federal mental health money. If successful, the state also would get $40 million more in federal Medicaid funds to cover mental health services for uninsured Floridians. But there is a catch: The reform effort would also end the system’s dependence on not-for-profit managed care providers and would open the door to for-profit managed care companies to compete for the $506 million in state business. “We need to allow competition in the system,’’ said Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, who is sponsoring the House bill, HB 7119. Miami Herald

TX: Governor’s strike force strikes back at contract failures – opinion. . . The health agency’s failures, identified by the American-Statesman in a series of stories over the past few months, underscore the need to strengthen the oversight of state contracts. State lawmakers have filed several bills that would tighten oversight, improve transparency and protect taxpayer dollars in response to the Statesman’s reporting. This month, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a contract reform bill filed by Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound. Nelson’s Senate Bill 20 would restrict no-bid contracts. Her bill also would require that all state agencies standardize the way they track and report contracts. Austin American-Statesman (blog)

TX: Anti-Toll Road Dallas Green Alliance PAC Rolls Out City Council Endorsements, Strategy. It’s still a long shot for sure, but the Dallas Green Alliance’s path to eight votes against the Trinity toll road on the Dallas City Council is coming into focus. The DGA, a pro-environment PAC expressly formed to get toll road opponents elected, announced its endorsements Friday, along with plans to distribute at least $15,000 to their campaigns. Dallas Observer (blog)

NJ: LETTER: Decision to privatize nursing homes despicable. The Monmouth County freeholder board’s decision to privatize the county nursing homes, despite the impassioned pleas of residents, employees, and the community against this plan, (“Monmouth County moves ahead to sell nursing homes,” March 25) is despicable and will lead to untold trauma for those involved with these facilities. Privatization is not the answer. The function of a moral government is to care for its citizens, not hand them over to the profiteers. Asbury Park Press

OH: Ohio Legislature looks to increase accountability for charter schools. . .Dave Yost, the Auditor of State, has taken an aggressive stand towards cleaning up wasteful charter schools, making them more accountable to the taxpayers. The auditor has demanded repayment of nearly $300,000 from two charter schools. . . .House Bill 2 is a charter school reform bill now being considered by the Legislature. It is co-sponsored by Majority Whip Mike Dovilla and state Rep. Kristina Roegner. The bill was written to increase accountability, transparency and responsibility in Ohio’s charter schools. Yost testified before the House Education Committee earlier this month regarding this bill. Watchdog Arena

NY: ALAN CHARTOCK: Ticking off teachers bad move for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. . . He has a few points but he is off the wall on things like charter schools, clear attempts at union busting, and vouchers that would allow the state to indirectly pay for religious education. These are terrible ideas. The conservative press, and we know who they are, won’t let up. They keep egging the governor on to do his damage. For generations, New Yorkers have adhered to the principle that if your kid goes to public school the state will pay for it but that if he wants to go to a religious or other private school, that’s on him and his parents. Cuomo has already dropped some of his worst ideas on education from the state’s budget. We are told that he may resurrect them in bills that will be traded with legislators for other things that they may want. Fair enough, but at least for now the governor’s attack on teachers and education has slowed down. Congratulations to Speaker Heastie and his Assembly members for putting a stop to the worst of them. Daily Freeman