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Fact-Checking Treasurer John Kennedy

Sue Lincoln

One day after officially announcing he’s a candidate for U.S. Senate, state Treasurer John Kennedy addressed a luncheon meeting of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. As usual, his speech was colorful.

“If we keep losing bright young men and women to Dallas and Atlanta, the average age in Louisiana is going to be deceased,” Kennedy observed.

But is what Kennedy says accurate, or is he just stirring the pot? Let’s look at one of his favorite talking points.

“We have 156 special funds. They’re called ‘statutory dedications’,” Kennedy explained. “You know, they hide ‘em so that you have to have GPS and a map to find ‘em. We need to eliminate all 156 of ‘em. That’ll free up $488-million cash tomorrow.”

Yet the Joint Budget Committee and Revenue Estimating Conference get regular reports on these ‘stat deds’, with all of them listed. They include funding for TOPS and public defenders,  as well as the Coastal Restoration Fund.  This time last year, they only added up to $175-million, not $488-million.

Kennedy’s not happy about the governor’s plan to raise taxes during the special session next month – even with a $750-million shortfall between now and June 30th.

“This is what we ought to spend the next six months doing at the state Capitol., asking how do we lower our costs, while still being able to deliver a decent product?” Kennedy said of the upcoming legislative sessions. “And we haven’t done that in Louisiana state government.”

But the state has done efficiency studies, and implemented cost-saving measures like privatizing public hospitals. Still, Kennedy continues.

“Until we do, I don’t think it’s fair or right to impose the largest tax increase in the history of our state on the taxpayers of this state.”