Senate agrees to compromise on higher ed commissioner hiring

The state Senate agreed Sunday to remove a layer of bureaucracy in the hiring of the state’s higher education commissioner.

At issue in Senate Bill 108 was whether to strip Senate confirmation of the hire as well as salary approval by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget for the leader of the state’s public colleges and universities. In a compromise, the Senate voted 36-0 in favor of stripping the salary approval while retaining Senate confirmation. The Louisiana House also must agree to the compromise.

State Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said the salary approval was something that stuck after former commissioner Sally Clausen angered legislators several years ago. Clausen secretly retired and then had herself rehired, forcing the state to cut her a check for nearly $90,000 in vacation and sick leave time.

Appel said the salary approval poses problems in trying to court quality candidates for a job that currently sits vacant. “(We’re) trying to lure someone away from Chicago or California and you have to face all those hurdles,” he said.