Unconstitutional participation in public retirement system uncovered Wednesday, Jan 28 2015 

Elliott Stonecipher

Help him help us

Elliott Stonecipher (pictured above) has uncovered a blatant violation of the state constitution by the elected, part-time, members of the Caddo Parish Commission who have joined at taxpayer expense a public-sponsored retirement system.   The commission is the governing authority of the parish of Caddo.

As troublesome as these elected officials flouting our constitution is the lack of anyone in Louisiana government to address this violation.

Historically, only private citizens with deep-pockets or professional trade groups with financial stakes in the outcome challenge the abuse of state constitutional mandates.

Despite Elliott’s best efforts, without enforcement, our constitution is nothing more than a governmental “hiccup.”

Elliott’s in-depth investigation of this violation is reported here.

If you agree that this is a problem, ask your leges who/what is responsible for upholding our constitution and why aren’t they doing so? It a law needs to be changed it can be addressed in the 2015 Regular Legislative Session.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill

Removing uncertainty from state budget Monday, Jan 26 2015 

dice

The leges planing for the budget

A story in a Baton Rouge newspaper reports various proposed efforts to balance the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

As of last week, the revenue shortfall for next fiscal stood at $1.4 Billion.  Today, the Revenue Estimating Conference is expected to increase that shortfall by at least $100 Million or more as well as reduce the projected revenues for the current fiscal year.  The latter will necessitate immediate mid-year budget cuts.

Our duly elected State Leges appear not to know what questions to ask Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols regarding her statements.  Perhaps they are just reluctant to ask for fear of retaliation (Loss of: committee chairs, pet projects, Pentagon Apartments, taxpayer-funded junkets, etc.)

While I don’t have the answers, I certainly have some questions that might benefit the citizens of the state in preparing for the future of tax/fee increases and reduction in necessary services. Perhaps, foolishly, I’m not in fear of Ms. Nichols.

Nichols is required by law to submit the budget next month to the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget so why not start asking now:

1. [Kristy Nichols said:] Specialists looking at the state’s systems identified another $200 million or so in savings. There are other reductions and small pools of money that can be found, and there is still some property to sell. Ibid. (Emphasis mine.)

A)    Are these “specialists” the firm of Alvarez and Marsal?

B)    If not, who are they and how much did we taxpayers pay them?

C)    Where is the list of specific savings?

D)     Are the savings one-time or continuing?  In other words, will additional reduction be necessary the following fiscal year to replace those in FY16?

E)     Exactly where are these “small pools of money” and how much is in each?

2. [Kristy Nichols goes on to say:] But that leaves the state about $1 billion short for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1. Ibid.

A)    From where, specifically, will the $1 Billion savings come?  Where is the list?

B)    Are the savings one-time or recurring?

C)    What specific properties are proposed to be sold?  What is the appraised value of each?  Are there buyers?  When will the sales be finalized?  If they aren’t finalized during FY16 what will be cut from the budget?

D)   By definition, revenues from property sales are one time revenues how will they be used offset the $1.4 Billion revenue shortfall in the Operating Budget (recurring expenses)?

E)  Specifically, what additional fees on college students are being considered and how much will they be?   Specifically what new or increases fees for services are being considered?

Why we need to know

It’s easier to predict when the next hurricane will hit South Louisiana than Louisiana’s next budget crisis.

Not knowing the answers to the above questions makes it impossible for us citizens to prepare.

Knowing these answers in advance is of particular important to businesses.  The bane of business is uncertainty.   Perhaps some of the business trade groups will support this effort to get answers.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill
 

Why is the UAL growing? Friday, Jan 23 2015 

debt

La. Taxpayers

The January Lege Fiscal Office report on the various issues affecting the state’s existing and impending fiscal woes reports that the Unfunded Accrued Liability (“UAL”) in the state’s retirement system increased by 6.4% in the latest fiscal year (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014) by $1.3 Billion to $20.3 Billion. ( See report here on page 4.)

Why is this important?

The state constitution mandates that the entire UAL be paid off by 2029.  If the UAL remains static, it means that the lege will have to appropriate $1.45 BILLION annually to straight-line amortize the UAL.

How did UAL increase?

The stock market in which the retirement systems invest the reserves has rebounded to above the level prior to the 2008 depression.  Bobby Jindal claims that the state has fewer employees than when he came into office in 2008.

What caused the UAL  increase?

Answers and solutions needed

How this increase in the UAL came about must be determined by the House and Senate Retirement Committees that have oversight responsibility.  Otherwise, there is no reason to expect it will not occur exponentially in the future.

Additionally, the committees must come up with specific solutions to prevent further increases in the UAL.

If you agree that the taxpayers deserve to know answers and solutions, contact the members of the committees. They are listed here and here.  By copy of this email, I’m asking each of the members for answers and solutions.

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill
 

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