BATON ROUGE (CNS)—You may recall Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ill-fated retirement “reform” bills of 2012, all written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and introduced individually by Jindal’s lackeys in the House and Senate.
An example of how those “reforms” would have worked if passed can be found in the case of a single state employee whom we know but who is representative of thousands of state civil service workers.
In her case, she was (and still is, given that no civil service pay raises have been approved for five years now) making $52,000 per year and had 20 years’ service in 2012 (21 now). Her plan was to put in 30 years and retire. At her current pay, with no pay raises for the remainder of her career (which appears more likely with each year of the Jindal administration), she would retire at $39,000 per year. With inflation and no raises taken into account, $39,000 a year won’t go very far.
Had Jindal’s “reforms” passed, however, her annual retirement would have been reduced to $6,000 per year—a $33,000 per-year hit. And state employees do not pay into nor do they receive Social Security benefits. Six thousand dollars per year for 30 years’ service. Period.
And she was not an anomaly; stories like this would have been the case throughout state government.
Jindal claimed his retirement package was aimed at restoring the various state retirement systems to some semblance of stability by reducing the unfunded liabilities. But rather than continue to pay the state’s share of contributions to the systems those payments were actually reduced.
The bottom line is Jindal has complete and total disdain for the plight of those in the trenches—the ones who actually make state government work by showing up for work each day (which is certainly more than he does, given his extensive travel itinerary) and listening to the complaints of hostile citizens who don’t understand why they have so much difficulty getting the services they need—from road repairs to college and university infrastructure repair to services for the developmentally disabled where the waiting list is 10,000 persons—and growing. http://theadvocate.com/news/6739937-123/la-officials-try-to-shrink
And he’s made their job much harder by laying off rank and file employees while fattening the unclassified (appointed, non-civil service) payroll.
At the same time, he has been careful to take care of favored legislators with six-figure, do-nothing jobs which serve only to beef up their retirement benefits, some by more than tenfold.
LouisianaVoice, with the information available, did a before and after calculation of retirement benefits for several of those washed up legislators and local politicians. All calculations were based on the assumption they will remain in their new lofty positions at least three years. Here is what we found:
- Former Rep. Jane Smith, by virtue of her appointment by Jindal to Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue at a yearly salary of $107,500, saw her retirement benefits climb from a modest $6,700 a year to $56,400 annually.
- Former Rep. Kay Katz, appointed to the Louisiana Tax Commission at a $56,000 yearly salary will go from $6,700 per year to $29,400 a year in retirement benefits.
- Troy Hebert who left the House to assume directorship of the State Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board, went from $4,500 to $37,500.
- Lane Carson, who recently retired as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs at $130,000 after five years on the job will retire at nearly $64,000 instead of about $7,500 on the basis of his service in the legislature.
- Former St. Tammany Parish President and now Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) at $165,000 and former St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, now the $150,000 Director of Hazard Mitigation and Recovery are only guesses. Because we are unsure of their previous salaries or their tenure in office, we have arbitrarily given them 15-year tenures (including their current positions) which put their retirement at $85,000 and $75,000, respectively—estimates both.
- Former State Sen. Robert Barham saw his modest $7,500 legislative retirement balloon to $84,500 on the basis of his $124,000-a-year position as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Wildlife and Fisheries.
- We already wrote about Congressman Rodney Alexander who is leaving Congress to accept Lane Carson’s former position as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs at $130,000, a comfortable position that will boost his retirement from 15 years in the Louisiana Legislature prior to his election to Congress from $7,500 to $83,500.
- But the grand prize goes to former State Rep. Noble Ellington. His 16 years in the House earned him a pension of about $8,900 but his hiring by Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon (at the behest of Jindal—his fingerprints are all over this appointment) as Deputy Commissioner of Insurance brought his retirement to almost $100,000 ($99,750).
Smith, Katz, Hebert, Carson, Barham, Alexander and Ellington qualify or will qualify for a combined retirement of more than $455,000 per year—an increase of $395,700 (667 percent) over their pre-Jindal appointment collective annual legislative retirement incomes of $59,300.
Now we harken back to Jindal’s aborted retirement “reform” which would have reduced our friend’s retirement from $39,000 to $6,000. On contrasting the two scenarios, one must ask, “What’s wrong with this picture?”
What is wrong is we have a governor who is just as slick and oily with the filthy ooze of dirty politics as any governor in the history of this state—while cloaking himself in the mantel of righteousness.
What is wrong is we have a governor who knows how to enrich his friends and stick it to everyone else—while pretending to act in the best interests of the state.
What is wrong is that we have a governor who entered Congress in January of 2005 as a man of modest means but emerged three years later as governor a multi-millionaire—and no one has asked how that happened.
What is wrong is that we have a governor who has demonstrated repeatedly that he has no compassion for the sick, the elderly, the developmentally disadvantaged, the mentally ill, state workers—and certainly not Louisiana citizens in general.
And what is wrong is we have a governor who does all that while hiding behind a façade of honesty, integrity, transparency and a “gold standard” of governmental ethics.
And now that same governor is attempting to call the shots in the election to fill the unexpired term of Rodney Alexander by promoting his puppet State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) for Congress. He did this by manipulating (a) the timing of Alexander’s retirement, (b) his immediate offer of a cushy job to Alexander, (c) turning over former Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell and chief fundraiser Allie Bautsch to work on Riser’s behalf, and (d) sewing up endorsements from State Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) and a host of Louisiana Republic congressmen, including former Payday Loan magnate John Fleming of Minden.
We in Louisiana are used to being conned by crooked politicians but they did it with so much more class than Jindal and his gaggle of sycophants.