Yes, there was $500 million in the reserve fund before OGB was privatized, but to say Jindal “raided” the fund is incorrect. What happened was Jindal mandated a premium reduction because the state has to pay part of the premiums and a reduction meant the state would have to pay less on its part, thus freeing up money that ordinarily would have gone to premiums for the general appropriations budget.
But when premiums were reduced, it necessarily meant that OGB was forced to pay benefits out of the reserve fund, thus placing a severe strain on the reserve fund and reducing the balance substantially.
Now, of course, premiums will be increased, effective July 1 but fiscal experts, including the Legislative Auditor, forecast a continued deficit flow until the reserve will be in danger of complete depletion by the end of this calendar year.
So, to answer your question: yes, there was $500 million in surplus but the fund was not “raided” per se. Instead, it was just another of Jindal’s accounting ploys to patch together a state budget that remains on very shaky grounds.
Off topic for this post in particular, but I had a ‘vision’ of a cartoon this morning on the way to work. It was the oil execs (at least 2 big fat ones with cigars) sneering at the ‘legislature’ (spineless and contorted) tied on a chain laughing at them as ‘toy dogs’. One of the execs had a guy behind him saying ‘they actually think they deserve respect lol’.
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