Public Affairs Research Council Of Louisiana
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana is a 501(c)(3) corporation that researches and creates solutions to critical public issues in Louisiana and focuses public attention towards these solutions. Also known as PAR, the council views itself as a government watchdog. The council has existed for over 50 years and it extensively researches Louisiana state and local government, monitors reforms and reminds public officials of promises made. The Public Affairs and Research Council of Louisiana is governed by the following Board of Directors and managed by the following staff members.
PAR currently is working on several accountability and reform projects, including "A Close-Up on Educational Accountability," a series on Louisiana Sunshine Laws, and "PAR Says Budget Needs a Reality Check."
- State budget reform: PAR has been a leading advocate of spending reform in Louisiana government. Many of PAR's recommended reforms have been enacted, including:
- Limits on future state debt
- Requiring feasibility studies prior to financing construction projects
- Consensus revenue forecasting;
- Creation of an independent legislative fiscal staff;
- Creation of the legislative auditor's office;
- A balanced state budget requirement;
- Creation of a mineral stabilization trust fund and "rainy day" provision, and
- Limits on state spending growth.
- Public education reforms: PAR had emphasized K-12 education and vocational education reforms. Enacted reforms include:
- Creation of the Quality Education Trust Fund (8g);
- An appointed state superintendent of education;
- Modernization of vo-tech facilities;
- Four-year concurrent terms for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and local school boards;
- Initiation of school progress reports, and
- Tighter controls on the Quality Education Trust Fund with limits on administrative costs.
- Other governmental reforms that have resulted from PAR research include:
- Reorganization of state government;
- The new state constitution;
- Actuarially sound funding of public retirement systems;
- Investment of idle state cash;
- A single ethics board with power to initiate investigations;
- A campaign finance reporting and prohibitions law;
- Strong open meetings and public records laws;
- Curbing of dual office holding;
- Equitable reapportionment of the Legislature into single-member districts;
- Comprehensive capital budgeting, and
- A single, expert agency to issue state bonds.
- PAR also strongly supports citizen and voter education. PAR has created several guides to achieve this;
- Guide to the Proposed Constitutional Amendments, published prior to every election on amendments;
- Citizen's Guide to the Louisiana Legislature, published every four years, with annual updates;
- Citizen's Rights Card (dead link) (guide to the open meetings and public records laws), updated as needed.
The Government Research Association granted the organization three national awards for its work on:
- Questioning Candidates Beyond the Platitudes, Most Effective Education, state-level winner.
- Spending Federal Disaster Aid, Most Distinguished Research, certificate of merit.
- PAR Research in Governmental Ethics and Transparency Yields Reforms, Outstanding Policy Achievement, certificate of merit.
PAR is funded mostly by members. Yearly membership dues begin at $100 and the council has over 3,000 members. 65% of PAR's funding comes from members, 20% from special research grants from foundations, 8% from special event revenue and 7% from investment income.