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|State Treasurer offers ideas on budget problem|
Although State Treasurer John Kennedy arrived at the Ferriday Rotary Club meeting 20 minutes late Thursday at Panola Woods, he wasted little time getting his ideas and points across.
"I have three ideas to solve our budget problem," Kennedy said, alluding to a $29 billion state budget. "One, do not raise taxes.
"Two, eliminate 5,000 state positions. No one has to be fired or laid off, we just would not fill vacancies and do a basic restructure. We raise the pay of people who take on additional responsibilities, but do not do it across the board.
"Three, we collect the money people owe us. We have $1.7 billion dollars in accounts receivable not being collected, and that is not just taxes."
Kennedy also said inmates should be required to earn a GED before being eligible for parole.
This would reduce recidivism, he said, noting that roughly 50 percent of inmates who are released from parish and state prisons end up back in prison. He said this would save the state billions of dollars.
Kennedy said he would also eliminate people who get free medical service making so many non-emergency visits to emergency room visits.
"That is expensive," he said. "I say the third time someone uses the emergency room in one year be turned away if it is something not serious. Tell them to take two aspirins and visit a clinic in the morning. Emergency care is not free. When people on Medicaid use emergency rooms as their primary care provider, it costs five to 10 times more than traditional health care."
Kennedy told the Rotary he substitute teaches in Louisiana.
"I don't do it for the pay," he said. "Teachers start their day at 7 a.m. and by the time they do lunch or bus duty at the end of the day they are worn out. Other than home life, the most important thing in terms of learning for young people are teachers. There are some real fine teachers out there. But there are also some who can't teach. We either teach them how to teach, or have them move on. And we need to get some discipline in the classroom."
Kennedy ended on a positive note.
"There are a lot good things going on in Louisiana," he said. "We've got a lot of new legislators. This is the best group I've ever worked with. You have a real good man in Andy Anders who is not afraid no say no to the governor like a lot legislators."
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