As a staunch advocate for transparency and fiscal accountability, I oppose the sale of the Office of Group Benefits for both of these reasons.

The lack of transparency in the development of the sale of the Office of Group Benefits has been appalling. How are Louisiana elected officials going to gain the public’s trust under these circumstances? Can we ever lift Louisiana up as a good place to do business when the elected officials of our state continue to conduct business behind closed doors and a legislative chairman and his committee are unable to get the true and complete facts about the proposed sale, even with a subpoena?

OGB was formed in 1979 as a self-insured plan to save the state of Louisiana money by eliminating the profit margin required by private enterprise. According to the information that I have received from a variety of sources, the sale of this agency would be counterproductive for the state of Louisiana, taxpayers/voters and to the public employees/voters OGB serves.

The agency operates on an administrative cost level at which no private corporation can operate, much less offer a lower cost level with the same competitive professional services and the claims turn-around time that OGB currently delivers at the same fair price. Government employees, retirees and their families, who are also voters, depend on a stable, dependable source for health-care services. OGB is doing an excellent job of delivering that product.

The executive and legislative branches should be encouraging government agencies to operate effectively rather than seeking to spin them off to the private sector.

Besides, may I remind our elected officials that those jobs are needed by these Louisiana citizens/employees/voters? Does the administration have approximately 300 new jobs of equal value to out-place these dedicated employees/voters, or do they also join the unemployment lines, have their families suffer, and possibly even lose their homes, too, in the name of privatization?

As a retired employee who is insured by OGB and a taxpayer/voter, I urge the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to stop the sale of the Office of Group Benefits until it can be objectively proved to be a fiscally sound and beneficial decision, not just for the short gain, but for the long term for both the taxpayers/voters and their families/voters of this state.

I hope every voter who reads this letter will join me in asking the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to use its power to stop this sale. Call your state senators and representatives.

Jean Armstrong

small business owner

Baton Rouge