Capitol Views by Maginnis: Kennedy budget plan buried by Senate panel
The final full week of the legislative session, which budgetary issues will dominate, started today with the aggressive cost-cutting plan of Treasurer John Kennedy being stopped cold in Senate Finance Committee. Kennedy presented bills by Rep. Dee Richard, I-Thibodaux, to reduce the number of state contracts by 10% and to eliminate 5,000 jobs per year in state government. "I think you could save a lot of money if you got rid of some of these contracts," he said, and then read through a list including counseling for breastfeeding, spiritual advisers for Muslim inmates, fur marketing in China, and "chimpanzee discovery days," before Chairman Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, advised, "I think we have the picture." Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater argued that contracts are vetted during the budget process and that the administration has reduced their value by $1.4 billion, or 30%, since Gov. Bobby Jindal took office. He cautioned that the blanket 10% cut included in House Bill 327 would cripple Bayou Health, the new coordinated care network. Many contracts, he said, result from pass-through federal funding requirements. Kennedy countered that the reductions can be made without affecting Bayou Health. But the committee, without objection, approved a motion by Sen. Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, to involuntarily defer the bill. The same went for Richard's HB 328, to cut state positions through attrition, which had passed the House, 94-5. Read the full column here for more coverage of today's action at the Capitol.
(John Maginnis will publish a daily update throughout the legislative session on Daily Report PM. The report is also available to LaPolitics Weekly subscribers on the Subscribers Only page at LaPolitics.com. Registration is available on the homepage.)
Louisiana Public Broadcasting is providing a daily video update featuring highlights of the session, which you can see beginning at 6 p.m. here.
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