Kennedy has talked about this need on television and on radio, leading up to and during the state special session.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dee Richards advanced through the Appropriations Committee as the state tries to grapple with a 1 billion budget midyear deficit which Governor John Bel Edwards inherited from former governor and Presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal.
In discussing various ways to cut state government, Kennedy listed various ideas that he has repeated before such as:
Questioning why the state has a $29 million web contract to help billion contract for food stamp recipients. During the testimony, Kennedy said, "I suggest that food stamp recipients don't need a website as much as they need a job, and help getting it”
The Treasurer, told the committee, “Just spend four or five hours looking through all these contracts, they going to make you throw up”.
In a slight verbal punch at the current administration, Kennedy said, “The idea that there it's difficult to find them, it's just not accurate in my judgment”. He said, “There's thousands of these things and nobody’s ever looked at them”.
Expressing his frustration, Kennedy said, “I begged Gov. Jindal to do this and he wouldn't and I'm begging Gov. Edwards to do it. I just don't know why he just can't call in his Secretaries and give them 10 days to get rid of some of these. And if they don't do it, fire them”
As an alternative, Kennedy said, “If the governor doesn't want to do it, call the Attorney General. He can pick up the phone and say hey guys were going to cut you 5% and if you don't like it, we're going to revisit these contracts, because you know what? Our governor says he's going to stop TOPS and football.
Interestingly, no legislator, during the hearing questioned or challenged Kennedy’s statement regarding the governor stopping TOPS and football”. Edwards, had said during an address to the state, that if the state did not raise revenues, then TOPS (a popular education program) and college football would be jeopardized. In fact, the Louisiana board of Regents warned the Governor of that possible scenario before Edwards conveyed his concerns to the televised public.
Kennedy also criticized an Earned Income Tax program which he said generates about $40 million a year. Kennedy said “it's about 94 bucks per person” and it really doesn't help that much for people who get it. Instead, Kennedy said, “I would take the $40 million--and I would spend the money” on childhood early education.
Referring to the last time the state had a similar dramatic budget shortfall, in 1988, Kennnedy said, that former Governnor roemer, “walked into my room and every other staff members office said you’re going to take a 10% pay cut,got a problem with that?
Kennedy offered the story and said, “I think you've got to lead by example”, meaning if you want others to take cuts, you must do so yourself.
Kennedy did not offer to take a paycut for his own salary or for others in his department.
Talked about the salaries