by Max Brantley
Here's your open line. Final words:
* COME THE MEDICAID APOCALYPSE: Reporting today says DHS is now predicting a $350-$400 million budget shortfall for Medicaid in fiscal 2014. That's on top of the additional $114 million that would be poured into the 2013 fiscal year beginning July 1. The state would have to come up with about a quarter of that to match federal money. Or cut Medcaid by making it harder to become eligible or
reducing reimbursements to providers. Strike that last thought. Providers have lobbyists. Poor people don't. Much fuss will be made about this. Premature for rational and specific reaction in this fiscal session though it will be. Beebe will remind that his program to restructure Medicaid is hoped — hoped — to stave off this calamity.
* CHARGE FILED IN FOI CASE: Fayetteville City Prosecutor Casey Jones has filed a misdemeanor charge against the director of the city's Advertising and Promotion Commission, Marilyn Heifner, for not providing a document she possessed when it was requested by a newspaper reporter. Charges on FOI violations are extremely rare. But successful prosecution of one now and then might help compliance with the public records law. Heifner is charged with withholding a counter-offer on a building the commission hoped to lease downtown. A conviction can carry a fine up to $250 and 30 days in jail. Heifner was placed on administrative leave after the investigation was made known.
* WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM EXPANSION: The War Memorial Stadium Commission met today and stadium expansion wasn't on the agenda, but reporters asked Chairman Kevin Crass about it afterward. Nothing but concept talk for now, he said. He noted obstacles of existing debt, expensive planning fees and the need for capital contributions (such as state or private money) because an expansion would cost more than could be paid by additional revenue. I'm guessing the major factor in War Memorial expansion is a UA commitment to continued games there after the existing LR contract ends in 2016. For now, the 19,000 extra seats on campus have to look appealing to UA. But if Little Rock can produce
high-dollar ticket prices for full houses for marginal early season games it might remain an attractive second venue.
* THE PUNANNY STATE: Web photo channeling Jon Stewart: