An alliance of influential business leaders and lawyers from across the state has some advice for state lawmakers coping with a projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming session: Free up statutorily protected funds, increase college tuition and, among other suggestions, get rid of more than 9,000 state employees.

Members of Blueprint Louisiana, a political lobbying organization founded by three well-known Lafayette businessmen, spoke to the Baton Rouge Press Club this week to offer their direction on how to effectively deal with the state’s budget woes. The capital city’s press club heard from several of the group’s Lafayette members, including Blueprint Louisiana chairman Bill Fenstermaker, CEO of C.H. Fenstermaker and Associates; lawyer Clay Allen and businessman Matt Stuller.

The recommendations from the state lobbying group include the following, as listed on the Blueprint Louisiana website:
•Open up statutorily protected funding — $100+ million in potential savings
•Reduce state workers by 9,486 over two years — $235+ million in potential savings
•Reform state employee and teacher retirement systems — $25+ million in potential savings
•Be “smart on crime” by revising outdated sentencing and parole guidelines — $2 million to $6 million in potential savings
•Implement a Medicaid coordinated care system — $20+ million in potential savings
•Reform the charity hospital system — $50+ million in potential savings
•Maximize federal matching funds for current state health expenditures — $125 to $575 million in potential savings and new revenues
•Implement a hospital provider assessment to generate new state dollars for the federal match— $245 million in potential new revenues
• Strike the right balance of institutional, community and home-based care — $25+ million in potential savings

More on Blueprint Louisiana and its budget suggestions are available on the group’s website.

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