Health Education Authority Director seeks AG’s help in filling seats on State Board

Jacob C. Johnson

HEAL’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REQUEST AN OFFICIAL OPINION FROM CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER OF THE
STATE – LOUISIANA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF LANDRY – TO AVOID LOSS OF $19.6 MILLION DOLLARS
IN HEAL FUNDING FOR PROJECTS IN NEW ORLEANS EAST, LAFAYETTE, SHREVEPORT, BATON ROUGE,
ZACHARY, AND PLAQUEMINE, LOUISIANA

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Health Education Authority of Louisiana’s (“HEAL”) Executive Director, Mr. Jacob Johnson seeks an official opinion from the Honorable Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, regarding governance of an instrumentality of the State. HEAL’s Board of Trustees appointments are mandated by Act 577 of the 2016 Regular Legislative Session – La. R.S. 17:3051-3060. All former board members were forced to resign on June 2, 2017 by the Governor’s Office and six months later – the board seats remains unfilled and an agency in dire circumstances.

HEAL was created by Act 112 in 1968 and was revised as Act 577 of the 2016 Regular Legislative Session. Since 1968, the agency has operated on self-generated funds derived from the collection of an administrative fee when HEAL Bonds are issued. HEAL remains 100% self-sufficient and all operations are at zero cost to Louisiana’s citizens. HEAL’s service area covers the entire State (where graduate medical education takes place), provides $800 million in health care related funding for projects, and is governed by a nine-member board.

Mr. Johnson has served as the Executive Director of HEAL since 2011 and he notes, “I take my fiduciary responsibilities as a public official and public employee very seriously.” Therefore, it is imperative that the chief legal officer of the State, Attorney General Jeff Landry, understands HEAL’s extraordinary set of circumstances, its impact on state employees, how it exposes undue harm to Louisiana’s constituency, and the business community who seek alternative financing solutions.

Applications totaling $19.6 million dollars in HEAL funding have been received for projects in New Orleans East, Lafayette, Shreveport, East Baton Rouge, Zachary, and Plaquemine, however without a board – no official business can be conducted. HEAL funding provides access to health care, health education and biosciences for Louisiana’s most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, veterans, mentally ill, homeless and medically underserved communities, urban and rural Louisiana. Equally, HEAL funding provides an economic impact to communities where projects reside by generating new revenues, local/state taxes, direct, and indirect jobs. More specifically, HEAL’s application process includes economic impact for each project, in which permanent and retained human capital estimate are 74-219 jobs, roughly $2.6 million dollars in annual payroll, and $1.9 million dollars in retained payroll.

The Attorney General has a vested authority in rendering opinions to ensure that all governmental entities remain compliant with any and all laws authorized by the Louisiana’s Legislative branch. The matters expressed by Mr. Johnson to AG Landry are both “epic” and “extraordinary circumstances”.

HEAL’s request that the Honorable John Bel Edwards reappoint its nine-member Board of Trustees, pursuant to the requirements for membership contained in La. R.S. 17:3053 and AG opinion, no. 79-781.”

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