News Release

Treasurer says Louisiana's reputation hinders recovery efforts

Contact: Rene Abadie


State Treasurer John Kennedy

       HAMMOND – The weight of Louisiana’s reputation is making the work of the state’s Congressional delegation much harder than it should be, Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy told students at Southeastern Louisiana University Tuesday night.

       Kennedy visited campus as the 2006 James and Evelyn Livingston Lecturer. The annual lecture, sponsored by Southeastern’s College of Business, focuses on business ethics. 

       Kennedy said that in the wake of last year’s hurricanes, a number of powerful Congressmen in Washington question pouring increasing funds into an “accountable black hole.”

       “We are better than our reputation,” he said, emphasizing that the state has made significant progress in implementing important reforms in the last 25 years. “But our reputation is costing us.”

       With ethics in politics is more important than ever, Louisiana needs to confront and come to terms with its past, Kennedy said, adding that with a former governor in prison, three former insurance commissioners convicted of crimes, and local officials being indicted for fraud associated with hurricane recovery, the state’s political history is nothing to be proud of. “But it doesn’t have to be that way,” he stated.

       “No doubt one of our problems is our reputation,” Kennedy said. “I am proud to be a Louisianian, but sometimes not so proud of being a politician.”

       He cited several reform efforts that are helping to clean up how Louisiana conducts its political business, including the development of a more independent legislature, enactment of stringent campaign finance laws, and the establishment of a truly professional revenue estimating process that helps ensure a balanced budget.

       “Things aren’t perfect,” Kennedy said, encouraging the students to become involved in the political process and to “demand higher standards.”

       He pointed to the levee board reform legislation that was passed in the most recent special session of the legislature, after it had failed in the first special session.

       “When the levee board bill was defeated in the first special session, there was tremendous outrage among people that led to a strong grassroots effort in which people demanded that the legislature and the governor pass reforms,” he said. “We do, after all, work for you.”

       The Livingston Lecture was founded in 1984 by Hammond businessman John O. Batson in memory of his long‑time friend and associate James Livingston. The series now also honors Livingston’s wife Evelyn, an active community volunteer who died last year.

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