Despite opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal, the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill that would expand the list of top state education officials that require Senate confirmation.
The Senate voted 38-0 to go along with changes added to the measure by the House, which approved the proposal earlier.
The legislation, Senate Bill 80, now goes to Jindal.
SB80 generated little interest initially.
It was drawn to put into state law the recent reorganization of the state Department of Education. But the bill would also require Senate confirmation for two additional leaders of the department.
One of the jobs is held by Erin Bendily, who is chief of department support and a former Jindal aide.
The other post is held by Rayne Martin, who is chief of innovation.
Both are paid $140,000 per year.
During an earlier hearing, Jindal’s office criticized the additional confirmation requirements.
An aide to the governor said officials in both jobs are involved in state school-reform efforts and should not be subject to state Senate review.
Ollie Tyler, acting state superintendent of education, and the president of the state’s top school board also criticized the provision requiring the additional confirmations.
However, the bill excludes the superintendent of the Recovery School District, called RSD, from Senate confirmation.
The RSD oversees troubled public schools in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and elsewhere.
State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said Tuesday that the RSD superintendent oversees a $540 million annual budget and hires all of the district’s employees.
“He sets all these salaries except his own,” Murray said of the RSD superintendent, who is John White.
“Maybe we ought to have a chance to confirm him,” Murray said. “That is an awful lot for one person to have.”
Democratic State Sen. Ben Nevers, of Bogalusa and sponsor of the bill, urged Murray to try to address the issue on another bill rather than adding it to the reorganization measure.
“This bill is very important to the department,” Nevers said.
Lawmakers have to adjourn at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Nevers said earlier that the two additional confirmations make sense, especially amid continuing problems with public schools in Louisiana.