Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chairman: Streamlining panel's 238 suggestions won't finish job

The chairman of a government cost-cutting panel defended the group's work Monday; even as he acknowledged that it won't provide a full solution to Louisiana's projected $1.3 billion state budget shortfall.

Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Covington, said he hopes the Legislature takes the lead in implementing key recommendations from the Commission on Streamlining Government.

The 10-member panel was created by the Legislature to suggest ways to downsize and reorganize the state's bureaucracy at a time when Louisiana faces years of anticipated budget shortfalls due to a slowing economy, tax cuts and a loss of federal health-care financing.

Among other things, the group is recommending a 2 percent, across-the-board cut to state agencies, transforming some charity hospitals into outpatient clinics, furloughing all state workers four days per year, reducing the state's workforce by 5 percent a year over the next three years and transforming the Medicaid program into a managed-care system to control costs.

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