Some presumed candidates for Louisiana governor in 2015 got called onto the carpet by state legislators for their alleged overspending on employee pay raises. The legislative querying produced some campaign propaganda points favoring certain of them at the expense of others.
As they pointed out to varying degrees extenuating circumstances, such as the need to keep what they believed were key employees, that they budgeted to be able to do this, and that attainment of merit standards by employees meant these people deserved this. In addition, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon claimed Department of State Civil Service rules forced him to grant four percent pay raises when money was available, and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the law made him grant raises. These were in reference to mandated civil service rules that said certain personnel actions required raises to be given if money was available. But agency heads have discretion in making these dollars available: they could have gone to filling more positions or to finance other activities, so to claim they were “forced” to give raises is an overstatement.
Besides them, also asked to explain increases were state Treasurer John Kennedy and Secretary of State Tom Schedler. Interestingly, the issue was not pressed with Donelon, although his budget typically derives roughly 90 percent of its funds from self-generated sources, far above these other departments. Today, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne testified about his office’s budget and for Culture, Recreation and Tourism’s, where he has assumed the secretary’s role there as well, and he was not asked, either.
It also produces a comparison among these three officials and how they have managed budgetary decline. Until the end of 2012 From the end of 2009 (he took office a few months later as the result of a special election), the combined numbers for Dardenne’s positions are a decline of 8.5 percent in dollars and almost 24 percent in numbers; from the end of 2007 Kennedy’s dollars declined by 8.8 percent and positions declined 12 percent; and for Strain’s from then his dollars went down about 25 percent and positions 27.5 percent.