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Action, not posturing, needed for pension board reform

Not only do Louisiana legislators want to close the barn door after the horse got out, they seemed surprised, despite repeated warning signs, that it did. And on this issue of retirement system management, those that have done the most to obstruct solutions to the financial deterioration of the state’s pension funds, not surprisingly, manufactured the most outrage over the administration of these.

Legislators on the House Retirement Committee last week expressed bewilderment over the investment decisions made by the Municipal Employees Retirement System, one of the baker’s dozen of retirement systems with statewide coverage. This formed part of the debate over HB 12 by panel chairman state Rep. Kevin Pearson, which would empower two more state officials to vote on its governing board otherwise comprised of a majority of representatives of municipalities.

For years, MERS’ former executive director engaged in a number of questionable practices that culminated in his resignation last year. In addition, under his guidance the board approved very questionable investments. The bill would make voting members out of the statewide officials, in addition to the respective House and Senate committee heads, who more often than not do not attend meetings given they act as voting members for all 13 systems.


Questionable report can fuel harmful Edwards agenda

When your political agenda flounders, create an imaginary crisis, aided by a garbage-in, garbage-out propaganda effort. Louisiana’s Catholic-in-name-only Social Justice U. continues to follow this playbook, potentially aiding a destructive economic agenda supported by the state’s current Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Following last year’s release of a report alleging a single parent and child needed to have a household income of about $45,000 to feel economically “secure” in Louisiana – using somewhat inflated estimates (for example, over $500 a month for child care) and ignoring government benefits (for example, a typical family in the situation described plus one child on average in Louisiana receives over $22,000 annually in tax-free government benefits – not including additional tax credits and rebates) – Loyola University of New Orleans’ Jesuit Social Justice Institute has doubled down. It recently compiled an index purportedly measuring “social justice,” and according to that the state ranks worst.

The data used do paint a picture of worse performance on nine indicators by Louisianans – grouped by “poverty,” “racial disparity,” and “immigrant exclusion” – than national averages. But the index assists little in formulating public policy dealing with the poor in America from the misleading nature of some of the elements composing it, their measurements, and half-baked understandings of the meanings and implications of those indicators.


Emperor Edwards wears no clothes on budget debate

The emperor had no clothes, it appeared from questioning this week by Senate Finance Committee members of the emperor’s representatives, on the matter of whether Louisiana government needs more revenues to function without cataclysm befalling the state.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and Department of Health and Hospitals undersecretary Jeff Reynolds briefed the panel on the $70 million reduction in state money from the current fiscal year budget. Last week Edwards announced these cuts would fall entirely on health care, this amount necessary as the Republican-led Legislature spurned his request to raise taxes enough to cover spending he projected to the end of the fiscal year.

The week before at the end of the special session dedicated to close current and forecast future budget deficits, Edwards excoriated the Legislature for failing to accede to the higher level of taxation he desired, maintaining that as a result severe programmatic disruptions would occur. Edwards already had volunteered some cuts, and Republicans came up with some more that, after some line-item vetoes from the governor, came in around $100 million worth combined.


Easter Sunday, 2016

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

This Easter Sunday, I invite you to explore this link.