Connecting state and local government leaders

Flooding Worsens Louisiana’s Housing Crisis; R.I. Gov.’s Alternative Way to Staff Her Office


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: More bad news for public education in Oklahoma; traffic tickets decline in N.J. county in a big way; and where is the exact center of Pennsylvania?

HOUSING | The severe flooding that hit parts of southern Louisiana this month has left thousands of people searching for new homes at a time when the housing market in the Baton Rouge region is already tight. “Inventory is already low,” said Ginger Maulden, president-elect of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors. “Now you’re going to have all these people trying to find a house.” In July there were 3,382 homes on the market in the city’s metro area, down about 15 percent from July last year. “We already had a situation in our market when people were getting multiple offers for their houses,” added Maulden. “It’s going to be crazy.” [The Advocate]

STATE GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT | In budget-strapped Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office has found a way to bolster her staff without breaking the bank: She’s borrowing staffers from select state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Department of Revenue, for instance. While the budget savings are a plus, the governor’s office says that the arrangement has more important benefits. "For the governor, it is that government should be collaborative and efficient," Aberger said. "We want the best team possible, and when appropriate we have tapped into talent in other state agencies,” according to the governor’s spokesperson, Marie Aberger. “A lot of these help make collaboration across agencies possible.” [The Providence Journal]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Court revenues have decreased and concerns about traffic safety have emerged as the number of tickets police have issued to drivers here has fallen steeply in recent years. Last year, the number of traffic tickets police handed out was 20,054, down from 25,378 in 2014. In 2013, the figure was about 29,000. The decline has coincided with a reorganization of law enforcement in the county, which is the most populous in New Jersey. Officers from the former Bergen County Police Department were last year placed under the command of the sheriff to cut costs and improve efficiency. After looking at the number of tickets issued by officers, Sheriff Michael Saudino informed supervisors it was “unacceptable … some of these guys [were] not writing any summonses at all.” [The Record via]

PUBLIC EDUCATION | With summer vacation ending, a new statewide survey in Oklahoma has found that many schools in the state are less than fully prepared to welcome students back into classrooms. A 500-teacher shortage persisted even into the second week of August, and at least 2,800 public school jobs—1,500 teaching positions and 1,300 support worker positions—have been eliminated due to budget cuts. To make up for the shortage in staffing, the state Board of Education is expected to consider as many as 350 emergency certificate applications in a meeting this Thursday. These allow people to be hired despite their lack of education or previous training. According to Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, "this is what it looks like when a state fails its schools and its children." [The Tulsa World]

WATER | A reduced winter snowpack and less precipitation are factors contributing to low water levels in Lake Champlain, which is allowing some great opportunities to access some of the lake’s shipwrecks, which are now closer to the lake’s surface. But the low water levels has made it worse for some boaters, who have to deal with plants getting tied up in propellers close to shore. Lake Champlain, which is one of America’s largest freshwater lakes outside the Great Lakes, is about 94.5 feet near Burlington. [Burlington Free Press]

CHILDRENS SERVICES | New family-service contracts in Arizona could have wide-reaching ramifications for children in the state. Social-service providers are concerned that the contracts will cut rates, lower standards and deter qualified potential hires. And while the Department of Child Safety claims the new contracts will get kids out of foster care and into permanent homes more quickly, some providers worry these changes may actually cause children to languish longer in the system.  [The Arizona Republic]

GEOGRAPHIC ODDITIES | It’s probably not surprising that the geographic center of Pennsylvania is in Centre County. But where is it exactly? It’s been an issue that isn’t exactly important but is a curiosity nonetheless. The exact center of the Keystone State is right around the geographic coordinates N40 52.500, W77 48.167, which is in a rugged ravine part of State Game Lands 333, which was previously part of the property of Rockview State Prison. For anyone wanting to visit the exact spot, there are no clear trails or paths to the spot. [PennLive]