My new column tells Virginia policymakers that it's time to serious about reducing the size and scope of government and that they should look to Louisiana's aggressive government reform efforts as a model. Here's an excerpt:
As the state taking perhaps the most aggressive approach to solving its own fiscal crisis, Louisiana offers a reform model Virginia officials should consider replicating. [...]
In the spring they created a Commission on Streamlining Government that presented the governor and legislature 238 recommendations this week to save over $1 billion through privatization, streamlining, consolidation, and elimination of government activities. Recommendations include a number of large-scale government overhauls, including adopting a statewide spending limit, shifting all of the state's retirement funds to 401-k style defined contribution plans for all new hires, and revamping state education finance to promote a student-based budgeting approach where education dollars directly follow children into the classroom. Similarly, policymakers created a parallel commission to review the state's postsecondary education system to find potential savings, cuts and service improvements.
Louisiana policymakers are also embracing privatization. The Streamlining Commission recommended over a dozen privatization initiatives estimated to save the state at least $88 million, including recommendations to create a statewide competitive sourcing program, privatize state inpatient psychiatric services and outsource the administration of state employee group medical benefits, correctional food and pharmaceutical services, road maintenance and most highway design engineering.
The state has also recently issued requests for proposals from private bidders for the potential privatization of state risk management functions (claims management and loss prevention), the maintenance of dozens of state buildings and a variety of IT support services. In addition, the state has already adjusted its rental car contract to facilitate more downsizing in its vehicle fleet, and it is undertaking an inventory and analysis of all state-owned buildings and lands to find underused property to return to private commerce.
I'll be writing separate posts in the coming days on the new Streamlining Commission report, as well as some of the privatization initiatives that are starting to advance in Louisiana.