Thursday, January 28, 2010

Streamlining Panel: State Programs, contracts cost millions

Members of the Commission on Streamlining Government told legislators that most agencies were slow in providing information on programs and contracts that cost the state millions of dollars a year.

The streamlining commission completed its work late last year. Lawmakers are supposed to use the panel’s recommendations as an aid in dealing with a state budget shortfall that is expected to top $3 billion over the next two years.

House Speaker Pro Tem Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, said she feels ill prepared, given the commission’s struggle to get information about contracts and programs.

Other lawmakers expressed concerns about the 238 recommendations that the commission produced.

The recommendations include:

  • A 2 percent across-the-board budget cut.
  • Eventually dissolving the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which is a state-run insurer of last resort.
  • Requiring the public to pay fees to cover the full cost of providing state services.
  • Tinkering with the state retirement system.

State Rep. Rosalind Jones, D-Monroe, said she is finding it difficult to identify recommendations that will help the state with its immediate budget problems.

Jones pointed to a suggestion about changing the structure of the state retirement system and asked how it would work.

Donahue said he did not know.

“I don’t have a crystal ball. I have the same question … I don’t know how it would work,” he admitted. He said the idea was to make the recommendation to encourage the state to explore the issue.

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