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Treasurer Critical of Legislature, Concerned about Fate of BP Funds

Treasurer John Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy addressed the Baton Rouge Rotary Club Wednesday. He had quite a bit to say about the budget, and the lawmakers who crafted it.

“I was very, very disappointed in what the legislature did this past session, in terms of our budget," Kennedy said.

The Treasurer asserts legislators didn't even try to address the things that had created the $1.6 billion budget hole.

“The recipe that I heard was, let’s just try to find enough money to pay the bills for six months, because we’re going to get a new governor and the governor’s going fix this," he said. "I know all four of the people running for governor. They’re all good men. Not a single one of them, though, walks on water.”

Asked about the recently announced BP settlement, Kennedy says he has deep concerns. He fears lawmakers may see it as a magic cure for what ails Louisiana's finances.

“The legislature has voted that some of that money’s going to go to the Rainy Day Fund, some of that money’s going to go to replenish the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly, and the rest of that money is going to go to coastal restoration. The legislature did that with a majority vote. They can undo it with a majority vote.”

Some of his concern stems from the way earlier BP funds, aimed at compensating for lost tourism in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, was spent.

“I wasn’t too happy when we took $300 million of that BP money in the midst of this crisis, and sponsored the Bayou Country Fest in Baton Rouge," Kennedy said.

The Treasurer is hoping he gets to vet the settlement before the state signs off on it.

“We’re supposed to receive this money from BP over 15 years, $500 million dollars a year. I kind of want to be sure BP’s going to be around 15 years from now. And I also want to know what the collateral is.”