Clausen Creamed By Leges Again; Regents Will Revisit Retire/Rehire Fiasco

Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen yesterday got another ass-chewing from a high-ranking legislator – this time from House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin.

From the Associated Press.

“This committee is totally frustrated for three years now of higher education and the Board of Regents not providing the information we request in a timely manner,” said Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, chairman of the committee. He added, “I hope today starts a new turning point.”

Committee members accused higher education officials of trying to circumvent the scrutiny of the House by negotiating more closely with the Senate on funding issues.

From WAFB-TV.

The group Morris referred to includes higher education officials like Clausen. Members of the committee stopped just shy of calling Clausen a liar during her testimony on the Grad Act. Members accused the commissioner of using her influence in the Senate to dictate policy.

“So, I hope today starts a new turning point with the board of regents and higher education in this state with this committee,” said Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro. “Where by, when we ask in direct questions that those questions get answered from the table and then you don’t leave and go to the other side of this process and try to circumvent what we tried to do in the process over here.”

Then there is this regarding Sally’s retirement controversy from The (Lafayette) Advertiser.

Clausen, in what everyone supposed to be an act of courageous austerity, was about to get a salary reduction at just the time when the state was chopping more money out of higher education. Her annual salary was to drop from $425,000 to $199,000.

But Clausen last year retired for a day and received $90,000 in accumulated sick days and vacation. When her pension kicks in in August, she’ll be receiving more than $345,000 a year.

All this happens in the glare of publicity while state budget authorities are wondering what’s going to happen with the nearly $12 billion in unfunded pension liabilities headed their way.

And we thought this letter to the editor in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate was obliquely pertinent to the debate about education funding.

Please stop teaching children to beg

To the public school system: Please stop teaching our children to beg.

Once again as I entered a local store, there were youngsters from the local school standing at the door begging strangers for money. They wanted to do something or go somewhere.

I honestly didn’t listen closely because I have already made up my mind that I will not encourage begging by schoolchildren.

If they want to go somewhere or do something extra, then let them EARN the money. They can wash cars, mow lawns, clean houses, have bake sales and lots of other things, and I will support them. But I will NOT support begging.

My message to the school system is please stop teaching schoolchildren to beg and teach them that working for what they want to achieve will create success.

Erin Bennett, Internet entrepreneur

There’s more. The Board of Regents for Louisiana higher education will discuss “Rule Changes, Retire/Rehire and Related Personnel Issues” during their Personnel Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

Here is the agenda. Agendas for the other committees and the full board of regents meeting can be found here.

The issue is likely to be of some controversy in the wake of revelations about Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen’s retirement last year and her action one day later of rehiring herself.

Regents Vice-Chair Robert W. Levy earlier today declined to say what issues might come up in the personnel committee, citing confidentiality. Levy did say that they would be focusing upon a 30% budget reduction mandated by the legislature.

Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) interviewed Levy this morning in his Ruston office. Levy also serves as District Attorney for the Third Judicial District of Lincoln and Union Parishes.

(Originally posted at Lincoln Parish News Online)

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