Louisiana lawmakers wrong to pass raises

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Being a Louisiana public official is nice work these days if you can get it. A House committee has passed a plan for more than 30 percent pay raises for elected officials.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco &045;&045; who would see a 31 percent increase in pay &045;&045; has wisely refused to support the measure.

And Treasurer John Kennedy said he wouldn’t take his raise, either, if it passes.

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That prompted Secretary of State Fox McKeithen to have the gall to say, &uot;I’ll take his pay raise, too, if he doesn’t want it.&uot;

In fact, McKeithen claims Blanco is only against the raises because of &uot;political heat.&uot;

Political heat? Maybe. But how about common sense?

At a time when Louisiana and every other state &045;&045; not to mention just about every household &045;&045; are still tightening their belts to cope with the struggling-to-recover economy, it is irresponsible for lawmakers to vote themselves a raise.

They ran for office knowing just how much they would make, and they need to make do with that. It’s hardly a pittance, especially when you consider how many taxpayers are getting by with much less.

Imagine what that money could be used for instead: pay raises for teachers, perhaps, or the money for school districts to pay for the high costs of benefits. Earlier this week the Concordia Parish School District said it would not be able to pay those costs beyond another year, and it needs help from the state to foot the bill. How about using that money to aid economic development and create jobs for Louisiana residents?

This bill does not need to make it out of the House or the Senate alive. We’re glad, at least, Blanco has committed not to sign it &045;&045; and we hope voters hold her to that.