St. Charles Rotary Club had an interesting speaker last week, one who could become governor of our state some day. John Kennedy is now state treasurer and has given his opinion of the financial situation in the state and how to fix it many times.
His facts and figures are very appropriate right now in Louisiana which is facing a $2 billion to $3 billion budget deficit next year. Here are some of his remedies:
• Louisiana has 258 state jobs for every 10,000 people with the national average at only 143. Eliminate 5,000 jobs each year for three years which will end up saving $500 million a year.
• Do away with 1,600 of the state’s 16,000 consulting contracts. This would save $750 million.
• Demand a 5 percent reduction in the remaining contracts. Some $337 million would be saved.
• When private insurance is cheaper than medicaid, use the Louisiana law that allows the state to purchase it. That would save $100 million.
• Give refundable state income tax credits to parents of students in underperforming public schools to send them to better parochial and private schools. Savings would be $57.5 million.
• Abolish the state’s three higher education systems and, with the exception of community colleges, place all universities under the Board of Regents. Assign each university a role, scope and mission. This could save $75 million.
Kennedy cited several other ways the state could reduce costs. All together, they would save almost $3 billion.
That would very well help to solve our overburdened budget problems without raising taxes. And that is one of our treasurer’s main aims.
Kennedy cited one rather alarming figure. When Mike Foster was governor six years ago, the state budget was only $12 billion. Now it is $27 billion.
We doubt that Kennedy would run against Gov. Bobby Jindal in his re-election bid this year since he has a somewhat secure job as treasurer. But after Jindal limits out on his two terms as governor, we suspect the treasurer might consider. And he could be hard to beat with the knowledge he has about our state government and the intelligence to use it to good advantage.