Monday, December 14, 2009

Streamlining panel tries to rein in state expenses

As the Commission on Streamlining Government prepares to issue its initial report this week, it remains to be seen whether the recommendations -- 238 in all -- will end up as a blueprint for a leaner government, or if the report will join the legions of well-meaning reform efforts that lie forgotten on dusty bookshelves.

The Legislative Fiscal Office is still sorting through the recommendations to determine their effect on the budget. But a tally using the streamlining commission's own cost-saving estimates shows that it would have a combined $778 million impact on the state budget. That number appears optimistic, however, as much of the savings suggested by the panel are things that state agencies already are doing, such as closing the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital.

While none of the recommendations carry the force of law -- they are suggestions to the governor and Legislature -- Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Covington, the commission's chairman, said he expects the recommendations to be a useful tool as state officials try to balance the 2010-11 budget without raising taxes.

Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, Jindal's chief budget adviser and a member of the 10-person panel, said many of the suggestions will be reflected in the governor's 2010-11 executive budget.

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