State lawmakers consider cutting primaries, lawyers

State lawmakers consider cutting primaries, lawyers

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - State lawmakers are taking a look at the hundreds of attorneys employed by state government as they try to deal with a $1 billion mid-year deficit.

They are also looking at the millions spent on a presidential primary that few people participate in.

Week one of a three-week legislative session is nearly over, and with the Senate adjourning for the weekend, some wonder if lawmakers will be able to address the current shortfall.

"It's slower than what some of us would like, but I think it's at the pace that it needs to be," said Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego.

While the Senate adjourned, two House committees delved into new ways to cut spending and raise taxes. First up was the secretary of state, who is considering closing 12 state museums.

"I can't think about closing Old State Capitol, but if I only have 1.2 million to operate all the other museums, I can't make water into wine," said Secretary Tom Schedler.

Schedler also suggested that the state get out of the presidential primary business and save $3.5 million.

"I promise you you will get a cost analysis from me on the presidential primary. It will make you sick," Schedler said.

Also speaking Thursday, new Attorney General Jeff Landry, who warned lawmakers that the state has too many lawyers on its payroll.

"I have 162," said Landry. "If you look at the attorneys in the executive department, there are 352 of those, and those 162 I have have to grade those 352's papers."

State lawmakers asked the attorney general to do a better job in policing chronic over-spending.

"Everyone says I hate state employees. I don't. It just bothers me that people don't do their job," said State Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington.

"All I can tell you is, put me in coach, I'm ready," Landry said.

Landry promised that the changes will start in his office immediately as he tries to bring under control millions of dollars spent on outside attorneys, in spite of the 500-plus attorneys already employed by the state.

Only about 12 percent of state voters participate in the presidential preference primary now set for March 5. State lawmakers suggested that Louisiana could save money by letting the candidates pay for their participation. They say in South Carolina, primary candidates are paying $125,000 to be on that state's primary ballot.

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