State Treasurer Discusses Good, Bad In $25-billion Louisiana Budget
State Treasurer John Kennedy says the recently-approved $25-billion Louisiana budget compromise contains things he likes, and things he doesn't like.
He tells KEEL News that he likes the fact that Representatives asserted themselves. "They took the governor's proposed budget and took an objective, analytical look at it, and tried to keep the good parts and change the bad parts," Kennedy says. "I like the fact that the Senate, which usually undoes completely whatever the House does, at the governor's suggestion, didn't do that this time."
But Kennedy says it wasn't the perfect product by any stretch. He says there's still too much money included in the budget for the wrong things. "There was a lot of moaning and groaning that we don't have enough money. That's not true. Next year, we'll have $25-billion to spend," Kennedy says. "When Governor Blanco was governor, that figure was $19-billion. When Mike Foster was governor, the figure was $12-billion, so we have enough money. We're just not spending it on priorities."
Kennedy tells us more attention needs to be focused on the state's higher education system. "We're basically giving what money we give to our universities by taking it from students. They consitently raise tuition and fees, and I think it's wrong and to me a bit embarassing that we have to balance this budget on the backs of our young people."
He also doesn't like the fact that the legislature didn't make any changes to the 19,000 consulting contracts the state has. A bill did pass the House 86-0 that would have eliminated 10% and saved about $450-million that could have been used to reduce taxes or help colleges or build some roads. That died in the Senate Finance Committee, for the third year in a row. Kennedy says he's going to try to convince the governor that he needs to support it, and he will introduce it again next year.
The treasurer also shared his thoughts on public school teacher pay raises, the state economy and the tax swap plan that the governor killed before the legislative session ever began. You can hear that portion of our interview here: