June 5, 2015

Insiders Detail The Decline And Fall Of Corinthian’s For-Profit College Empire. . . According to Lueck, students signed an open-ended “master promissory note,” allowing the school to recertify new loan amounts every year. This would happen annually through a chaotic process known as repackaging, in which students would turn in financial information and the staff would shuttle them into new loans and grants. Corinthian students attracted huge amounts of financial aid money from the federal government: Close to 90 percent of the company’s revenue, around $1.4 billion per year, came from taxpayers. Huffington Post

Commissary privatization stokes concern among critics. A Senate proposal would require the Defense Department to develop a plan for private companies to run commissaries is drawing criticism. The Obama administration has joined the growing chorus of critics of a Senate proposal that takes steps to privatize commissaries. “The administration has concerns with commissary privatization and the willingness of private sector entities to participate in such a project,” said Tuesday’s statement from the Office of Management and Budget. . . .Meanwhile, two organizations wrote to leaders of the Senate defense committee, expressing their opposition to the provisions that would raise prices and would set in motion the process of privatizing the stores. “These committee actions set in motion price increases and would severely damage a benefit long cherished by millions of beneficiaries who rely on commissaries to stretch their household budgets by providing a 30 percent discount on their groceries,” wrote The Coalition to Save our Military Shopping Benefits, in a letter Monday. Military Times

Understanding Amtrak and the Importance of Passenger Rail in the United States. . . Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states. Passenger rail service supports economic development, connects rural communities to the nation, and helps reduce roadway congestion in major metropolitan regions. In addition, Amtrak facilities and services are vital to commuter rail agencies, allowing 840,000 commuters to reach their destinations every weekday. Center For American Progress

Scott Walker: The First ALEC President?. . . If Walker is successful in his presidential bid, he would be the first ALEC alum to take the oval office. . .Walker continued to push ALEC agenda items in the coming years, particularly education privatization measures – and often by way of the governor’s biennial state budget, which limits public discussion and debate. Walker’s 2013-2015 budget included several ALEC-inspired measures to transform and privatize the public school system, with provisions limiting local school board oversight for charter schools, expanding “voucher” programs, and creating new teaching licenses for individuals with no education background.  PR Watch

IL: Rahm’s privatization of school janitors is still a mess. For the last several months, teachers in Chicago have been doing two jobs for the price of one: instructing kids, and occasionally taking a moment to mop, scrub, or vacuum their dirty classrooms. The extra duties are the result of a $340 million privatization boondoggle from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Among other things, it’s resulted in the Chicago Public Schools firing hundreds of janitors. Now teachers at Oriole Park elementary on the northwest side have decided to take matters into their own hands. They’ve filed a union grievance that, if successful, could force CPS to hire back some of the janitors. Apparently this is the state of things: to get CPS to clean its schools, teachers have to go all legal on them. Chicago Reader

IL: Illiana foes happy, some unsure, about its apparent demise. Opponents of the Illiana toll road are elated but remain a bit skeptical about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s announcement that the controversial road will be removed from the state’s multi-year transportation plan. “The Illiana … is on hold indefinitely due to the refusal of the General Assembly to pass a budget that includes any meaningful reforms,” Carson Quinn, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said in an email, adding that IDOT has stopped all funding for the project. . . . IDOT envisioned it being built by a private company through a private-public partnership, but critics said it was too costly and the high tolls needed to pay off the bonds sold to build it would deter drivers from using it. Learner said he “hopes and expects” that Rauner and IDOT will take the next steps to implement their decision by removing the Illiana from Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning’s 2040 plan and working with the Federal Highway Administration to rescind its official approval of the tollway. Chicago Tribune

VA: Virginia Tempers its Enthusiasm for Public-Private Partnerships. Since Virginia passed a law 20 years ago authorizing public-private partnerships in the state, it’s been a model for other states interested in tapping private businesses to help deliver state services. Virginia officials frequently testify on Capitol Hill or at international conferences about their efforts. Both Democratic and Republican governors have used the partnerships in Virginia. The most well-known examples are toll roads and tolled lanes on highways in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. So it was significant when Aubrey Layne, Virginia’s transportation secretary, suggested recently that Virginia may be able to save taxpayer money by financing a $2.1 billion interstate widening project itself, rather than relying on a public-private partnership (P3) to finance, design and build the project. Government Technology

CA: UC President Janet Napolitano Urges State To Fund Expanded Enrollment. Napolitano: We have a plan that would enable us to meet the demand. We’ve asked the legislature to increase state funding by $50 million this year and $50 million next year to expand in-state student enrollment by 10,000 students over the next four years. NAM: What’s your read on what the legislature will do? Napolitano: Sacramento has realized that higher education has to be a priority. I’m sympathetic to the legislators because they have so many conflicting demands. Nonetheless when you look at the prison budget and compare it to higher education, that needs to change. The legislators have the opportunity to expand enrollment to the best university in the world.   NewAmericanMedia

CA: Costa Mesa settles lawsuit over outsourcing with employees union. A costly four-year lawsuit between Costa Mesa leadership and its public employees union, stemming from the City Council’s effort to outsource municipal services, has ended in a settlement. . . . The settlement allows Costa Mesa to privatize parks and maintenance services in 2017, but prevents the city from outsourcing other services for four years, which Righeimer called a “cooling-off period.” Daily Pilot