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21.6.12

Disingenuous reply tries to obscure poor pension health

Power and privilege fought back when a particularly dismal report shed more light on Louisiana’s overgenerous, underperforming pension systems, illustrating the attitudes behind why the state faces this looming crisis.

The Pew Center on the States, not known for its hyperbole but rather for its quality in research, noted the poor fiscal health of Louisiana’s pensions systems was close to the bottom of the states. With a recommendation that a pension system be 80 percent funded, at 57 percent the state is now about $19 billion short of that mark. The same information was used by supporters of system reform to argue for changes that would have employees pay their fair share for the generosity of their benefits as at this underfunded level taxpayers are pitching in an extra nearly $1 billion a year to offset.

However, this fix was opposed bitterly by the retirement systems and their interest group allies, resulting in deferral of the legislation and kicking the can down the road some more. Reform would reduce the amount of money coming into the fund and with the generous payouts; never forget that agencies and bureaucrats always prefer more resources than fewer both to get and give because more brings more power. Reform also directs unwanted attention to the systems’ subpar investment performances. These two reasons explain why the unfunded accrued liability has doubled in the past dozen years.

20.6.12

Geymann post, perk passing produces poppycock, piffle

So state Rep. Brett Geymann is quitting his Natural Resources and Environment Committee post and giving up his rent-subsidized apartment across the street from the Capitol? Yawn, and to be expected from someone who on his signature issue has been much more a show horse than a workhorse.

Breathlessly reported in the media, in letting the wider world that no doubt hungered for news about him know about his dramatic life change, Geymann sounded like he had just been disgorged from an est seminar: “I need to separate myself from any perks just to be clear I’ve got one thing in my focus and that’s working on the budget.” And thus he spake, making himself into a modern-day, male, budget-worshipping Julian of Norwich. One might have been excused for expecting a following announcement that he would dress going forward in camel’s hair and eat locusts and wild honey in the desert, the better to lead the way into the New Fiscal Kingdom.

Evicting himself from Pentagon Barracks doesn’t mean he must wander the desert preaching, but it has a little significance. The complex has room for only about a third of all legislators with a tolerance for roommates, so seniority plays a role in grabbing a bed and there’s always a waiting list to get in. Or maybe the saturnalias that rumor has that still break out there from time to time despite ethics reform simply may be too distracting for his purity of fiscal thought.

19.6.12

Legislators evade responsibility, speak hypocritically

A pair of Central Louisiana legislators shows us the only thing worse than blaming someone else for the consequences of your own actions is then to criticize them in doing whatever they did something you’ve done yourself.

You didn’t hear the likes of state Reps. Chris Hazel or Herbert Dixon moan when the “preamble adjustment” that the Legislature passed – with both of their approvals – was used to give a budgetary haircut to the Departments of the Treasury and Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. The passage instructed the Commissioner of Administration to excise, from any part of the budget, $15 million.

But they sure got into high dudgeon when it was used against spending in their districts in order to comply with the adjustment. The Democrat Dixon saw about 200 government jobs eliminated at health care facilities while the Republican Hazel will see the J. Levy Dabadie prison shuttered that will cost those personnel their jobs, although the roughly 100 would be offered positions at nearby state prisons, courtesy of line item vetoes cast by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

18.6.12

Recall credibility gap invites accountability requests

Echoing a theme inherent to the Angry Left, backers of recalls of Gov. Bobby Jindal and three other legislators claim these elected officials as part of a grand conspiracy of corporate and ideological interests yet themselves attempt to keep secret their own operation to the point that it strains any credibility.

The “Recall Bobby Jindal” organization actually encompasses efforts against all four, but the stringent recall requirements of the state – needing a third of all registered voters in a political subdivision, district, or state to petition just to have an election except in the smallest – have forced the group to concentrate its fire on just one of the targets, state Rep. Chuck Kleckley, conveniently not only in the area of the main organizers of the group, but also House Speaker. Keep in mind that not only no legislator or statewide official ever has been recalled, there’s never even been an election triggered to do so.

But with only 28,693 registered voters as of Apr., 2012 in Kleckley’s District 36, the threshold of 9,565 reached to produce an election is the real intent of the group. It knows Kleckley has not even had opposition the last two times he has run and that nothing about can change the outcome giving them cause to be after Kleckley’s hide, passing reforms that will improve education but threaten the group’s special interest allies. The point is a historic first time to inconvenience Kleckley, relying on a strategy used time immemorial by bullies, thereby using intimidation, courtesy of the bother of a recall election would cause even with him certain to win, to scare off in the future those that attack the power and privilege of its allied interests.