State employee insurance changing _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols

With Gov. Bobby Jindal’s term nearing its end, another top aide is leaving the Jindal administration.

Kristy Nichols, Jindal’s top budget adviser, is resigning from her role as commissioner of administration to work in the private sector, the Governor’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon.

Stafford Palmieri, who has handled several key policy issues for Jindal during the most recent legislative sessions, will replace Nichols as the head of the Division of Administration effective Oct. 15.

The division handles the day-to-day operations of state government and drafts the budget proposals for the governor.

Palmieri also will have a spot on the Revenue Estimating Conference, which determines state spending and could meet soon to re-evaluate the budget for potential cuts.

Nichols will take a position with Ochsner Health System as vice president for government and corporate affairs, according to the Governor’s Office.

“It has been both a pleasure and an honor serving the people of this great state,” Nichols said in a statement. “I want to thank Gov. Jindal for giving me the opportunity to help realize these goals.”

Nichols has been Jindal’s commissioner of administration since 2012. She previously spent two years as his deputy chief of staff.

Her replacement, Palmieri, serves as the deputy chief of staff in the Governor’s Office. Natalie LaBorde, who serves as assistant chief of staff, will move up to deputy.

Jindal said in a prepared statement: “From day one, Kristy has been a key team player who has fully dedicated herself to bettering the state of Louisiana. Together, we’ve been able to reduce the size of government, improve health care across the state and create a better, stronger Louisiana.”

Palmieri, who has worked in several positions in the Governor’s Office, joined the administration from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank in Washington, D.C., where she was associate editor and policy analyst.

The Yale University alum has played a key role in high-profile issues, including Common Core education standards and a controversial tax credit for college students that was used to balance this year’s budget while remaining in line with an anti-tax pledge Jindal made.

Jindal, who officially launched a run for president in June, has seen several departures from his administration as his term approaches its January end. Jindal cannot seek re-election because of a term limit.

Few, if any, holdovers are expected to remain in the Governor’s Office — no matter which candidate is elected Oct. 24.

Several of his top aides, including former Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin, were transferred to his presidential campaign staff and replaced with staffers lower in the ranks.

Amid all the shuffling, Jindal named then-Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs Melissa Mann as his chief of staff.

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