Friday, 22 August 2014 13:36

Kennedy:Edmonson lawsuit needed, Common Core debate ongoing

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edmonson2In Part III and the final segment of the Google Hangout interview with John Kennedy, the Louisiana Treasurer discusses the "Edmonson Amendment" controversy involving the Louisiana State Police Superintendent retirement legislation and also discusses one of the "hot" button topics of the day, Common Core.

In part II, Kennedy talked about the projected $1.2 billion dollar budget deficit and his failed effort to reduce the number of state consultancy contracts.


SABLUDOWSKY: Ok.  So, let's move on to a different subject, one that you were certainly outspoken about and that deals with the State Police Retirement Fund.  Now, you wrote an Op Ed about it and basically you said, you asked questions, you were real concerned about it and some things have happened since that OpEd, number one, the State Police Superintendent has said that he's not going to take the increase in retirement amount and the Governor actually said, I think yesterday, that he is against the legislation he signed and approved. So, I'm just wondering, are you going further with the, yoU had requested a hearing with the state police retirement board, am I correct?

KENNEDY: Yes.  We have to go forward and here's why and this is not about personalities. I know Colonel Edmonson well, he is a fine person 


KENNEDY: This has nothing to do with personalities.  The State police retirement system, on whose board I sit on as a trustee with a fiduciary duty to taxpayers, has a deficit of $327 million dollars. That's how much they're in the hole. We asked to get the facts about this bill, we just got the facts in a report, that's been published.  What the report found, and I think we know the facts--in the waning days of the legislature, legislative session, in a closed-door meeting, an amendment was added to a bill that would give two troopers, only two troopers, special treatment.  And it would cost the retirement system somewhere between $300 thousand and a million dollars.  I thought like and feel like it was wrong for two reasons, first the cost, I already explained, we have a deficit.  Second, fairness. I don't care whether you're a prince or a pauper, a king or a pawn, you're suppose to be treated equally with everybody else. And this was a case that's clear giving special treatment.   Colonel Edmonson and the other trooper (inaudible) said they're not going to take the benefit but they reserve the right to come back to the legislature next spring. The Governor originally said nothing about it but recently, yesterday said ok, I knew about the bill but I did not know it just affected two people.   I think what we need to do as fiduciaries, to protect the system, is to get this law off the books.  It's still on the books, it's going to be on the books until its taken off and our lawyers say its's unconstitutional.  What I would like to do is file a declaratory judgment and get  a court of final jurisdiction to say that  and then we don't have anything to fight over any more, or disagree about. 

KENNEDY: If we don't that, if we don't do that, you're just assuming that the legislature will be asked to repeal this law  and quite frankly, I'm not prepared to assume that right now. {snippet 97}

SABLUDOWSKY: One thing that gets me is, the bill did not have a fiscal note, am I correct?

KENNEDY: They had one, but they added three days after the legislature

SABLUDOWSKY: Three days after and the governor signed it with the fiscal note.  So, even though he might have known about Edmonson being one of the two people, he didn't look at the fiscal note to see, well, this is only three hundred thousand dollars?

KENNEDY: Well, we asked for in our September 4...that's a good question, Steve, we asked in our meeting on September 4  for the governor's executive counsel to be there, Mr. Thomas Enright, he's a fine lawyer...he recommended that the governor sign the bill, I don't know if Thomas is going to come but we asked him to come...but this issue is very straight forward, special treatment has been given and that's not only illegal, it's morally wrong and we need to fix it.  This is about ethics, morality if you will, honesty with taxpayers, you either believe in ethics or you don't.  You know, it doesn't do any good to talk the talk if you're not willing to walk the walk. And religion is what you do in your life after the sermon's over.  Ok. We can all give sermons and listen to sermons, but religion is what you do about it. It's your actions.  And the actions, it's clear to me we need to take if we truly believe this is wrong, is to go get the law declared unconstitutional. And then we don't need to worry about what the legislature is going to do, or what some future legislature is going to do.  We'll get this law off the books and that's what we ought to do and I am hoping the governor, I take him at his word, that he did not know it just impacted two people, I hope he'll join with us to file this lawsuit.

Common Core

SABLUDOWSKY: One last question, Common Core, the courts, or at least one of the judges yesterday has ruled, it went against the administration, and so the Common Core, Common Core is proceeding in Louisiana along with the PARCC exam and I am just wondering--do you think we are going to see some type of end to this big debate in Louisiana, that has now percolated nationwide, with Governor Jindal actually making it a major issue, I'm just wondering what's your take on it.

I don't think we'll see the end of the debate. My  understanding of the lawsuit is, that the ruling of the court was that the preliminary injunction would not be granted.  And of course, you're a lawyer--so you and i both know--what that means is--the governor has gone into court saying stop the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing Common Core and I want an injunction.  The court said, no, I'm not going to give you an injunction right now, I may give you an injunction later, but, I'm going to conduct the trial first.  I think the trial, and don't hold me to this, is scheduled in the next month or so, but that's when all the lawyers come and present their evidence.  What's going to happen, I don't know, whatever going to happen will be appealed to the Supreme Court , so i think this issue will be on the table for a long time.               




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