State Treasurer John Kennedy: Louisiana Can Afford To Spend More On Higher Education
State Treasurer John Kennedy said he has a plan to fund higher education at a higher level, but it has received opposition from members of the Senate Finance Committee and from the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Kennedy said the state has the money to support higher education and higher spending levels, "but we're just spending it in the wrong places.
Kennedy said Louisiana needs "real jobs for adults and a better education for our kids, and you can't have one without the other." His plan would cut by 10 percent the amount spent on consulting contracts. That move would generate about $530 million and could double "overnight" the amount of money spent on higher education, Kennedy said.
Spending on higher education has been slashed by 67 percent in the last five years, causing "irreparable damage" to the state's public universities, Kennedy said .
Among the contracts given to consultants:
- $60,000 to encourage Hispanic citizens in Rapides and Natchitoches parishes to wear their seat belts
- Tens of thousands of dollars a year for the Department of Health and Hospitals to sponsor boxing tournaments
- $875,000 for a Department of Transportation and Development consultant "to provide assistance to disadvantaged business enterprise companies doing business with DOTD"
- $250,000 for a Department of Education consultant to "provide valid and reliable data to parents to support informed school choice decisions"
Kennedy said the Jindal administration sees the plan as "inconsistent with their privatization effort," so it has been opposed in the Finance Committee of the state Senate. The proposal received unanimous support from the state House of Representatives during the last legislative session, Kennedy said.
"This is not about privatization," Kennedy said. "It's about getting rid of government waste and helping universities without raising taxes or tuition."
Kennedy said the state has the money to support higher education and higher spending levels, "but we're just spending it in the wrong places. And I will tell you, kids and parents can't afford anymore."
To listen to the full interview with Kennedy, click on the 'Play' button below.