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Good evening I'm bad. George welcome to this legislative edition of Louisiana the state we're in tonight on our viewpoints segment. We will look at the week's hottest issue pay raises for teachers in our broken segment speakers debate no fault insurance. And we profile a man who has a lot to say about where Louisiana's money goes. But first the week's legislative highlights the issue of teachers and state employees pay hikes. It was the dominant concern of the Louisiana legislature this week. The House and Senate passed different versions of a resolution urging the governor to call them into special session to consider pay raises. According to the governor that session would run from August 7th to August 17th. But before legislators consider the problems of a special session there are numerous problems still facing them this session. One of them is a ratification of a contract for managing a New Orleans Superdome. The governor outlined the terms of the contract with Hyatt corporation on Thursday and warned legislators not to alter it. He
told lawmakers he didn't want the responsibility of running the dome. And if they didn't like the contract it would be up to the legislature to decide what to do with the dome. The House this week approved a lengthy governmental reorganization bill stripping it up some controversial amendments that set up an office of higher educational services would have abolished the Louisiana Educational Television Authority and three college scholarship loan commissions and Senate action this week that was included in introduction of five bills increasing the penalties for sex crimes involving children. The author of the bill said Internet Keiffer of New Orleans said that in light of homosexual Renz involving young boys in New Orleans and increasing concern about the use of children in pornography there was a need for this sort of legislation an apparent change of heart. The Senate took the bite out of a resolution aimed at opening gubernatorial confirmation hearings to the public despite a precession commitment. The Senate voted to allow the closing of such hearings making appointees qualifications or lack of them a senatorial secret. But as we said the real legislative highlight was a massive
lobbying push by 20000 teachers. It's been said that Louisiana politics is a fast track that the concern of the morning is not necessarily the concern of the afternoon. Equally the promise of the morning is not necessarily the commitment of the afternoon. Seldom has this been more the case than with the teacher's pay raise issue the subject of tonight's viewpoint. You have before you the results of the tabulation of the responses to a question are submitted to members of the legislature it is apparent that two conclusions can be drawn from reading these figures. One a substantial majority of the legislature recognizes the need and desirability for fee increases for about one hundred thirty thousand employees and people in the form of education. It is also apparent I think the inescapable conclusion that there does not seem to be an adequate number in most instances not even a bad majority. While the two
thirds majority is required that does not seem to be an adequate number of legislators willing to make the hard decisions that would be required in order to generate the huge sums of money necessary to accomplish these purposes. Therefore absent an indication of a change in attitude by the requisite number of the legislature. It is not my intention to convene a special session since I do not believe that would be productive. Teachers in Louisiana were upset by the governor's announcement that there would be no special session. Immediately the president of the Louisiana Teachers Association said the teachers had no choice but to consider drastic action. Teachers have been promised pay raises in the past but the promises have seldom been fulfilled as a result. The average buying power of teachers in Louisiana is more than 1500 dollars below their buying power in 1972. Some local teacher's groups voted to walk out if the
legislature failed to act. In a meeting of LGA unit presidents May 14th produced a call for a one day lobbying push on Thursday of this week with the teachers in their districts getting interested. It was hardly surprising that the legislature was suddenly interested to know the house was reluctant at first to ask for a special session. Such a measure by Representative James David Kane of dry creek was OK. The day before the teachers were due to arrive still some representatives like Alphonse Jackson said a walk out would hurt the teachers cause I say to my fellow colleagues as a professional educator that they are making a serious error by leaving their teaching post coming here on Thursday to ask the legislature to do what is going to do in a way. When they when we can find the means to do so. The other thing school is going to be out in two weeks and as citizens of this state they can come down here and state every day if they want to to suggest to members of the legislature
how we can on education at a level commiserate with need. This is counterproductive. It's not in the interest of public education in this state is not going to get them one additional vote for a teacher pay raise and I suggest that is going to lose them votes. They are making a serious error in the Senate. Persuasive Edgar metod Lafayette's sponsored the request for a special session. Though some senators tried to shift the responsibility to Edwards and others wanted to bypass him completely. The measure won easy approval Mouton argued that the legislature has not fulfilled its obligations to the state's teachers. We have come before the people of Louisiana in a situation of grave crisis in the field of education and the feel of state employment. We have not met the issue squarely. The governor has done his best to get us to cooperate even to the
point of taking a silent and secret poll to see where consensus lies. In my judgment he is not receiving sufficient number of flies to even begin to judge whether it's consensus or not. Many were reluctant to send back the question is the governor now for almost nine months has begun this sovereign body to accept the responsibility and meet the financial problems that beset education and civil servant employees. We have not met that obligation or that responsibility. Education superintendent Kelly necks and teachers Representatives watched the House and Senate action closely. So did the governor who expressed concern over what might happen if children showed up for school and their teachers didn't. I've been in consultation with representatives of the teachers association and with the superintendent of education and have concluded that it is in the best interest of the state public education system to declare a legal holiday on
Thursday the 19th of May. So as to make it possible for those public school teachers who wish to visit their legislators in Baton Rouge to do so without having to take a leave of absence or engage in a walkout. The superintendent and I are concerned about what would happen to children who went to schools either partially are totally on staff on Thursday this will eliminate the unnecessary use of buses and the gearing up for a school day on Thursday on the face of uncertainties which might exist. So no one really knows what number of the teachers would dissipate and the movement to Baton Rouge on Thursday. More than 20000 did come to Baton Rouge and buses and cars. One group in a moving van they gathered on the Capitol steps and overflowed onto the lawn. Their accents as diverse as the state's cultural heritage. They carried signs cheered and chanted snapped in the shade. Met with the bomb makers. A few even graded papers and all drew in to listen when LTA President William Stephens opened the program.
Your action in turning out here today in such impressive numbers has already captured the attention and the imagination of the people and the leaders of our state. In response to the vote last Saturday of LTI unit presents to call this rally. And to your overwhelming support that call the governor of our state Edwin Edwards has declared today a school holiday throughout our state so that a great number of us could attend. And the governor has agreed to come and meet with us here and to respond to our call for equity. And for justice in this regard. I would like once again to emphasize a very important aspect of this entire lobbying rally. We are not here today to demonstrate against anything or against anybody. We are here demonstrating for something we're here demonstrating for fifteen hundred dollars increase for teachers. And hospital increases while other school employees. Let me tell you something teachers we
don't want a thousand dollars. We don't want twelve hundred. We don't want 14 money. I believe that everyone in the state who has any knowledge or concern for this problem recognizes that you do not need to justify a raise. I said a year ago and 100 times sense that the evil erosion of inflation has already made your case and you do not need to convince anyone that your salary levels need to be increased. I believe that the legislature now recognizes that problem and will be working with me to solve it.
Yesterday two days before again tomorrow. And for the days ahead I will be meeting with concerned legislators trying to decide where if anywhere in the budget we can reduce funds already budgeted for other purposes. But let me assure you that I'm totally convinced that no matter how. Well we cooperate on that venture and how hard we try it is foolish for anyone to suggest to you that the money is needed to give you a meaningful raise can come from that effort alone. But we are going to try that and make every effort in an effort to discharge our obligations to the taxpaying public. Trim the budget where we can in every effort. Second we are looking at long time exemptions in certain of the tax laws
which if we remove would generate an estimated 30 to 40 million additional dollars and it would ensure the teachers the state is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to fund the raises and trimming spending cutting some tax exemptions and calling a special session. But he won them not to in their lobbying with a one day trip to Baton Rouge in order to solve the problem not only for this year but for the years ahead. Teachers must continue reminding legislators on the need for this. The LTA president could not have agreed with the governor more keeping pressure on after today. We surely hope so that we keep continual and constant pressure on these legislators back home. We know the public is with them with us and we're asking the public to join with us in putting pressure on these legislators. Would you be satisfied if anything less than 50 100 would not.
Teachers stress that that capital rally didn't rule out the possibility of a future strike. But if their pay raise fails to take shape some will surely say that Thursday's rally and that implied threat were at fault and fault is just the issue before the legislature faltering auto accidents. That is some bills say compulsory liability coverage while others say compulsory no fault. This week's pro con question is should the legislature approve. No fault insurance for Louisiana. Thank you Beth. First of all I believe the controversy of automobile insurance is going to be aired in the legislature and I've never supported compulsory liability insurance because of the fact that it did not work in the states that tried it. Number one Massachusetts had it for some 21 years whereas everyone had insurance in Massachusetts liability insurance and people were actually faking accidents in Massachusetts in order to file a suit and make a claim
I believe in compulsory no fault insurance whereas you wouldn't have to prove who was right and who was wrong in an automobile accident. You would ask your company to pay for your damages. I would ask my company to pay for my damage and certainly wouldn't be compulsory. We believe this would be fair. And of course the beauty about no fault is that it would actually reduce the cost of insurance. Today we have some 40 percent of the motors we estimate that has absolutely no insurance whatsoever on the automobiles. Slightly this bill will pass these 40 percent of people would have to carry insurance. Just imagine today 40 percent of people putting nothing in a pot 60 percent of people putting millions in the pot. And who is getting the money out of the system today. Certainly the people are putting nothing in a pot and collecting millions in the millions upon dollars. And these are premium dollars that you and I are paying for because of the present system the way it is. I advocate compulsed for no fault insurance. And I'm asking our legislature to pass it because that's the only sensible way to go because our reparation system as we know it today is totally unfair to the people in Louisiana. We believe the legislature ought to at
least report this bill onto the floor of the house and let the House and the Senate as a whole resolve themselves into committee and debate this vital issue because it is an issue of such magnitude and consign cost to people so much money. I think that the House and the Senate is an incumbent upon them to go ahead and debate the bill and let the public know exactly what's going on. And this is what we hope that we don't get shut off or shut down in a committee and the Commerce Committee in the Senate and in the house. I asked the legislature to give us a fair shot at this and debating the bill on its merits between the House and the Senate as a whole. Certainly if this happens I believe we can resolve these problems once and for all. What I want. Only way to go as far as I'm concerned is a way we want to go now with no fault insurance. And it would be a to everybody in the state Louisiana and register as an automobile would have to have
it first of all I'd like to express my gratitude for this opportunity to respond to Commissioner Renard's remarks. The people of the state of Louisiana have been subjected to a very expensive and slick promotional campaign from Mr. Benard which has been financed by certain segments of the insurance industry. No fault is being sold to the people of Louisiana as a means of reducing insurance rates. And well that's an admirable goal I want to assure you that it will not happen. Hasn't happened in other states and it will not happen in Louisiana. Commissioner Bernard refers to our sister states of Arkansas and Texas and Mississippi and says that they have lower rates into Louisiana but none of those states have a no fault Bill. Arkansas has none. Mississippi and Texas have what's called an add on Bill which is a bill a concept supported by the trial lawyers. Let me give you examples of what's been experience in states that have no fault bill similar to that proposed by Mr Barnard in Massachusetts. Rates have gone up 50 percent since the adoption of
no fault in New York. They've gone up 20 percent since June of this year. In Florida they got a 16 percent increase in January and in another 27 percent increase in September of this year. The reason it no fault doesn't work is that while it does reduce benefits to the innocent party it awards benefits to the person who causes the accident. Let me give you an example of what can happen under schemin Bernards no fault Bill. Suppose that a drunk driver proceeding down the highway runs a red light and strikes a car and a passenger in that car is a young housewife. Even if that housewife were to be crippled from the waist down under Sherman Menard's Bill the most she could recover would be her medical expenses. By the same token the drunk driver who ran the light if he's an employed individual could receive up to forty thousand dollars in lost wages. I suggest to you that that's not a fair system that it's not equitable and that that type of system should not be adopted in the state of Louisiana. The torture system as it exists award's benefit fair benefits to
the party who is innocent and without fault. These days in governments as in households everybody talks about trimming the budget finding funds for this project or that project. The most Ask friends is a question of equal interest and who understands it. Tonight's profile looks at a man whose job it is to understand. The road from Baton Rouge to New York City is a not uncommon route to success but the road from New York City to Baton Rouge via teaching advertising combat and engineering supply is a bit less traveled. Ralph Perlman says his reasons were clear enough. His wife made him promise to move south as part of their marriage agreement but the move south resulted eventually in a move up for Perman has been a behind the scenes power in state governments since the late 1960s. Now a state budget officer Perlman oversees the complexities of Louisiana's spending. In other words he knows how much money there is to spend and with his recommendations has a lot to say
about who gets what. Mr. Perlman every year we hear millions and billions of dollars tossed around we talked about $3.2 billion budget. Are you the only man who really knows where all the money is in state government and how much do you know about that. Well of course I'm really not the only man in state government that knows where all the money is. And it's not hard to find out where all the money is if you take time to do research. I've been interested in money problems and been interested in money for a number of years as part of my job and I'm that type of person who because he loves his job and is fascinated by the job takes travel and takes the time to do the required research and over a period of time when you're dealing with the same facts. The figures come with the facts and you sort of developed some type of expertise about the money. Let's talk about how you got involved in this kind of a job but what's your background for it.
Well of course I have the usual academic background and business administration and a master's in business ministration. My original academic fields were in the in the area of threefold. They were education wise because I thought I was going to be a schoolteacher and did the practice teaching and took the educational courses and then I was interested in economics and in marketing I was interested in marketing and because I felt that marketing represented the the lifeblood of America. That's that's where the goods come from how the goods are distributed and who pays for the goods. That is Dan you're an advertising officer. Yes prior to World War 2 I was associated with an advertising agency a piece. One of the larger advertising agencies in the country and we handled it in quite a number of national accounts which I was what they called an account executive that somebody who acts as a liaison between an advertising agency and the and the company and one of the companies was a
small pharmaceutical company in New Jersey that put out quite a number of products. Let's say for the geriatric and they put out a product which I was looking for a label and I gave it the label of Sarah 10 which was Nature spelled backwards and it caught on. Do you have to use some of those same techniques in presenting budgets and everything is as of marketing sort of technique or maybe a PR kind of technique. Well let me say that anyone's conduct. Before a legislative group as varied as an Appropriations Committee is in a finance committee is consisting of people who represent different types of occupations different areas of the state. I think part of my job is a an understanding of human and personal relationships and it takes say some type of expertise and being able to deal on an equal basis not
talk down to people but treat people as your peers and treat people as your equals and try to understand what their constituents the problems are it's very easy for somebody to sit in Baton Rouge and make decisions based upon telephone calls and reports and papers. But it's been my particular position which I try to translate to the people of my staff that if you're going to have an idea about what it's all about you better get out into the field where the action is. And so I tried to visit the state and visit the state agencies and visit as many legislators as I can during the year just to listen. It takes more than slogans to cut fat from budgets Croman says. Few realize how much state money is legally committed revenue. How little is lying around waiting to be discovered. The $3.2 billion in the budget the use of all but $400 billion is pre-determined. Any trimming would have to be done here. Mr Perlman. How many slush funds are there in the state.
Well there are no slush funds per se. The legislature through a constitutional amendment provided for the creation of an entire emergency board and constitutionally are allocated a percentage of the state's income which varies anywhere from two and a half to almost three million dollars a year. That's a contingency fund to be used by the entire emergency board for unforeseen situations for which the legislature didn't contemplate while we were here in session. That's the only fun that is officially created. There are some funds of a restricted nature in the Wildlife and Fisheries Department who are statutorily dedicated to all the fees and monies that they generate from the sale of licenses Plus the mineral resources come from from oil and gas wells and minerals on the lands owned by the Wildlife and Fisheries Department say there is an emergency such as the Luling ferry disaster and the state has to spend some $15
billion. What does that do to your overall budget picture. It causes havoc of course because these are unplanned and unprecedented unprecedented situations and there are various ways of dealing with items of a nature like this. Fortunately the Luling ferry situation came up while the legislature was in session and the legislature can address itself to that matter through the through the normal appropriation process. I was hear a lot about fat in state government. Is there a lot of fat in state government. Do you see a lot of things when you look at the budgets from the agencies that perhaps could be cut. Well I see a lot of fat in the budget requests for unnecessary program expansions and and some programs that arent necessarily important when you set up statewide priorities and it becomes the role of the budget analyst both in the budget State Budget Office and the Legislative Fiscal office to to
weed out if you will the the wheat from the chaff and trying to recognize what are the true programs that are most beneficial to state governments. This New Yorker has never played the southern gentleman approaching committees with hat in hand. His word on budget request was generally good enough. Now however witnesses before the Appropriations Committee must be sworn in a practice and considers insulting. He also has a new legislative counterpart Joe Kyl sitting beside him and sometimes questions Perlman's recommendations. Has this made his job harder. No it has made my job harder. It's changed in that in my responses to various legislative committees I'm now called upon to explain why my position at times differs from the position of the fiscal office but this is a thing that I have been viewing in many many states and we have no more no less problems than my counterpart have in other states. It's still not too pleasant having someone to question you is it.
Well I think that's a natural reaction when nobody questions you in the past and somebody questions just now which is rather new rather new thing. And finally does a man who spends his days dealing with the state's millions of dollars find it hard to go home at night to his own finances to balancing his own checkbook. Well this has been a recent bone of contention between my mom my wife and myself. I've turned the checkbook over to my wife and in reconciling the checkbook the other day I found out my wife had done the usual female tricks of forgetting to enter checks and incorrectly computing balances to the extent where I had less money in the checking account than I thought I had and I began to fuss and my wife says well you don't seem the fuss before the legislature when you're talking about billions of dollars while you're downgrading me for about $100 I said Honey Well let's this is my money.
Louisiana: The State We're In
Legislative Coverage #5
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Louisiana: The State We're In is a magazine featuring segments on local Louisiana news and current events.
Legislative coverage; Teacher's pay; Teacher Rally
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Copyright Holder: Louisiana Educational Television Authority
Producing Organization: Louisiana Public Broadcasting
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Identifier: LSWI-19770520 (Louisiana Public Broadcasting Archives)
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Chicago: “Louisiana: The State We're In; Legislative Coverage #5,” 1977-05-20, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2022,
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APA: Louisiana: The State We're In; Legislative Coverage #5. Boston, MA: Louisiana Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from