Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has “Obamacared” Group Benefits, the state’s health insurance program, according to state Treasurer John Kennedy.
The Obama administration is taking $700 billion from Medicare to fund the federal health care revamp formally known as the Affordable Care Act, Kennedy said.
“That was wrong,” Kennedy said.
“Now the state has its own ‘Obamacare,’” he continued, noting the $300 million in Group Benefits reserves gone under Jindal’s watch, “putting it in financial jeopardy.”
That was wrong, too, added Kennedy, insisting that some funds helped plug state budget holes.
“When we do it, some of my colleagues call it good government,” Kennedy told a Press Club of Baton Rouge audience. But, he said, “we have basically ‘Obamacared’ our own program.”
Cassidy brings in reinforcements
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy is bringing in U.S. Sen. John McCain to help in his Republican campaign to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
McCain, a longtime Arizona senator, military veteran and failed presidential candidate, will travel across Louisiana for a series of veterans’ rallies beginning Sunday, the campaign said.
The events start in Metairie at 5 p.m. Sunday at Cassidy’s Jefferson Parish headquarters, 6824 Veterans Blvd.
Monday’s schedule is jampacked with meetings: 8 a.m. in Covington at the American Legion Post 16; 11 a.m. in Baton Rouge at the USS Kidd Veterans Museum; 2 p.m. in Lafayette at Fontana Center; and 5 p.m. in Bossier City at the VFW Post 5951.
Cassidy is not only trying to beat Landrieu, but he’s in a battle for votes with fellow Republican Rob Maness, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
Louisiana U.S. Sen. David Vitter is joining McCain and Cassidy for all the stops, the campaign said.
Transportation groups back amendment
Several transportation groups are lining up behind a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot aimed at clearing the way for state road improvements.
Backers include the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, Louisiana Associated General Contractors, American Council of Engineering Companies of Louisiana, the Louisiana section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Concrete and Aggregates Association of Louisiana.
The proposal is Constitutional Amendment No. 4.
It would allow the state treasurer to invest public funds in a Louisiana Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which then could be used for low-interest loans to local and parish governments that want to finance improvements.
The pro-amemdment coalition is called “4 For the Roads.”
BR Teach for America teachers diverse group
More than half of this year’s new Teach for America teachers in Baton Rouge and nearby are people of color or from low-income families, said Michael Tipton, executive director of Teach For America/South Louisiana.
TFA trains high-achieving college graduates to enter troubled public schools for at least two years.
This year’s class includes 85 first-time teachers. Another 90 are in their second year.
The organization gets some financial assistance from the state, and TFA aid has sparked controversy at the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Some state workers not getting pay raises
While the state budget includes extra funds for classified employee pay raises, some aren’t getting the 4 percent boost in their paychecks this month even though they qualify for it.
Hundreds of the 6,300 classified employees who work in higher education are being left out.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget allocated $60 million for pay raises effective Oct. 1. Employees had to attain a certain job performance rating to be eligible.
But higher education didn’t get a share of the $60 million, according to Division of Administration Communications Director Meghan Parrish.
So various campuses and entities had to operate under the funding stream budgeted and received through the state Board of Regents.
And some of the campuses certified they did not have the money to grant the 4 percent without employee layoffs.
According to state Civil Service, classified employees at Baton Rouge Community College, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, Southern University in New Orleans and LSU-Eunice are among those going without the 4 percent pay increase.
Classified employees of other higher education entities are getting less than the 4 percent. LSU employees will see a 3 percent boost as will those at the LSU Ag Center.
Jindal administration changes legal team
The state Division of Administration is changing its legal team.
Elizabeth Murrill, who has been its executive counsel, is leaving to pursue “opportunities in the private sector,” the administration said.
Murrill has been with the Jindal administration for six years including stints as the governor’s deputy counsel, then as executive counsel.
Ben Huxen, who has been deputy counsel to Murrill, will move into the executive counsel position and continue to serve as chief adviser to Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols. He will make $165,000 a year.
Scott Johnson becomes general counsel for the Division of Administration at a salary of $121,945. Johnson has been general counsel for the Louisiana Realtors.
Pennington head to address BR Press Club
William Cefalu, Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s executive director, will be the speaker at the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday.
Cefalu will discuss innovative ways that Pennington Biomedical is capitalizing on its expertise and unique facilities to adapt to the changing dynamics of federal funding for research.
Press Club meets Mondays in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, which is located at 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers. The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program. “Like” the Baton Rouge Press Club on Facebook.
Skrmetta to speak at GOP Roundtable
Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta will be the speaker for Thursday’s luncheon meeting of the Ascension GOP Roundtable.
The meeting, sponsored by Ascension Republican Women, begins at 11:30 a.m. at Kamal’s Kafe, 13091 Airline Highway, in Gonzales.
Skrmetta, an attorney and businessman from New Orleans, is running for re-election to a six-year term on the PSC in the November elections. He represents District 1, which includes all or a portion of 12 parishes. The PSC governs utility providers, railroads and other public services.
Medicaid expansion rally set for Capitol
The Capital City Council of MoveOn.Org is holding a rally and vigil on the steps of the State Capitol at 11 a.m. Saturday to call attention to Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature refusing to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage for the working poor.
The Institute of Medicine notes that more than 3,300 people died prematurely in Louisiana between 2005 and 2010 for lack of health coverage. The expansion of Medicaid under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act can go a long way to dealing with that.
MoveOn and other progressive groups are holding at least a dozen similar events across the country to remember those who died too soon.
Woody Jenkins to address Pachyderms
Woody Jenkins, chairman of the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party’s executive committee, will be the guest speaker for the Oct. 23 meeting of the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge meeting.
Jenkins, a former state legislator and newspaper editor, will discuss the political climate in Louisiana.
The 6:30 p.m. meeting will be held at the Grand Asian Chinese Buffet, 3132 College Drive in Baton Rouge.
Pachyderm meetings are open to the public. Attendees pay the restaurant individually for the buffet. Reservations are requested at (225) 644-5728 or by email at email@example.com.
Compiled by the Capitol news bureau