Bill granting raises ill timed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gov. Bobby Jindal has the opportunity to right a wrong, to eradicate apparent cronyism from a state in which the practice appears to be a birthright.
During the freshly minted session of the state Legislature lawmakers somehow managed to push through a piece of legislation that grants state judges a multi-year raise while the rank-and-file are increasingly escorted to the employment gallows. The bill may also mean raises for sheriffs and to a few eligible parish presidents, many of whom are already earning six-figure salaries and making well more than the taxpayers footing the tab.
Republican Sen. Danny Martiny of Kenner is behind this half-baked bill, which increases the salaries of judges from 2.1 percent to 5.5 percent. By state law, judges’ salaries also establish guidelines for the salaries of sheriffs and some select parish presidents, which could mean raises for those elected officials as well. Martiny’s original version contained a provision that would have prohibited the judges’ raises being exploited as a vehicle for pay hikes for sheriffs and parish presidents. The House scrapped that language and, amazingly, the Senate went along with the plan from across the hall.
The bill smacks of political favoritism and is certainly hypocritical in nature. At a time when the budget continues to be slashed, when state workers are shrinking in numbers, when the keys of public hospitals are being turned over to private institutions jeopardizing affordable health care for the less fortunate, lawmakers, in a move that defies logic, have decided to grant raises to a select few.
It should also be noted that
the state employees who have survived the budget butchery have not received a raise in six years.
The bill was a legislative faux pas with obviously no thought put into the process. Why give judges, and subsequently sheriffs and parish presidents who already sit at the top of the pay pyramid, raises while ignoring those who have not realized an uptick in their paycheck for the better part of a decade? Lawmakers’ actions were incongruous and a blatant slap in the face to the rest of the state workers as well as taxpayers.
Gov. Jindal should use his
veto power to put an end to this legislation, especially when so many state employees are already walking the unemployment line.