Kelly Connelly

Government & Politics Reporter

Kelly grew up in Baton Rouge. She started out in radio at Baton Rouge High where she was first on air at WBRH and KBRH. While studying film and politics at Hendrix College, she reported and hosted for KUAR in Little Rock, AR. She then moved on to KUT in Austin, TX. She misses the dry air, live music at Studio 1A and breakfast tacos, but is happy for crawfish and non-ironic use of Mardi Gras beads.

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Bayou Corne Sinkhole
6:59 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Jindal Ducks Questions on Sinkhole Visit

Gov. Jindal didn't say he'd go to the sink hole, but didn't say he won't go.
Credit Frank Barnett, WRKF News

 Gov. Bobby Jindal evaded directly answering questions about whether he'll visit the site of a massive sinkhole that has swallowed nine acres of land in swampy Assumption Parish at an unrelated press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Some residents of Bayou Corne have been under a mandatory evacuation since August. They’ve publicly criticized the governor for having never traveled to see the sinkhole or speak with the families, according to the Associated Press.

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Tax Reforms
10:05 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Jindal Agrees to Tax Plan Due Date

Representative Chuck Kleckley was picked by Governor Jindal to become Speaker of the House in 2011, but lately, they've been butting heads.
Credit Louisiana House of Representatives

 Governor Jindal’s administration has agreed to finish and release its proposal to overhaul the state’s tax system by the end of next week. In a reversal of the usual power-dynamic, Jindal is now yielding to pressure from legislators.

Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley, who was hand-picked by the governor sent Jindal an open letter yesterday evening pressing for the release of details of his tax overhaul. He asked that the plan be released to legislators by March 15 so that committees could properly debate it before session starts.

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Tenure Laws
5:42 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

On Second Thought, Tenure Changes Tossed

Judge Michael Caldwell heard this case in the 19th District Court for the first time in December. Then, he upheld parts of the law - now he's struck down the whole thing.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

A state judge has thrown out rules passed last session tying teacher tenure and pay to classroom performance. Monday's decision is a turnaround from the same judge’s previous ruling.

In December, Judge Michael Caldwell threw out parts of what’s been called the “Teacher Tenure Act,” – parts that didn’t directly address teacher tenure, but made rules for school boards, visiting teachers, superintendents and principals.

That day, the governor touted the ruling as a success because it kept his tenure overhauls. Now the judge is saying the whole thing has to go. 

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FY14 Budget
5:28 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Fact Check: Completing Nichols' Numbers

On the Jim Engster Show Thursday morning, Division of Administration Commissioner Kristy Nichols relied on talking points that have been repeated by officials in the Jindal administration. 

The Commissioner has cherry-picked her facts.

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State Pensions
5:44 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Cash Balance Plan Could Tiptoe Back to Lawmakers

Chairman of the House Retirement Committee, Representative Kevin Pearson, brought forth the Jindal-backed cash balance plan last session.
Credit Louisiana Legislature

Representative Kevin Pearson, chairman of the House Retirement Committee, has prepared a bill that he hopes will improve the cash balance plan – despite that the plan is the subject of ongoing litigation. The plan was overturned in court because it didn’t get a two-thirds vote in the legislature. 

If the State Supreme Court does uphold the decision, the bill could be used as a safety-net, and the cash balance plan could be brought before the legislature a second time.


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Tax Reforms
4:28 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Tax Reform Risks Local Services, Tax Elections

Do you pay your neighbor's son to mow your lawn? Under Gov. Jindal's tax plan, he may legally have to add a sales tax to his total. -But that's only if that service is approved to be taxed by the parish you live in, according to the state constitution.
Credit flickr.com/idiolector/

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are voicing their skepticism of Governor Bobby Jindal’s tax overhauls. The forum this morning: an annual pre-session briefing hosted by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

Jim Patterson of LABI kicked off the presentation with what he’s heard from legislators about their private talks with Governor regarding his still unreleased tax overhauls. "[Gov. Jindal] does want to conform the local sales tax base to the state tax base," Patterson said. "This will help local governments to absorb what are going to be some relegation of services by the state to them.


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State Budget 2013
3:01 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Fiscal Hawks to Pick at Budget

The group of legislators that routinely opposes Governor Bobby Jindal's use of one-time money in his proposed budgets met over the weekend, and may soon have an alternate way to fund some of higher education's budget. 

Last year, the fiscal hawks proposed over $160 million of cuts to lower priority areas of the budget. Representative Kirk Talbot, a leader of the group, says those weren’t considered until the mid-year shortfall. They’ll try again this year.


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Politics
5:26 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Jindal Budget Questioned by Ally

A group of thirty legislators have vocally opposed use of "one-time funds" in Jindal's budget. Now opposition is coming from legislators that have been closer to the governor.

 Governor Bobby Jindal wants to utilize one-time funds to keep the state afloat. Jindal's proposed budget was unveiled Friday to the Legislature's Joint Committee on the Budget.

The Governor's budget it $24.7 billion in size. One-time funds make up only $424 million of it – but last year, the budget’s use of one-time funds was smaller than that, and those funds not coming through were partially to blame for mid-year budget cuts.


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State Budget
6:06 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Billion Dollar Decrease in Proposed Budget

Gov. Bobby Jindal invited the press to the Governor's Mansion for a brief preview of his budget, which will be unveiled in full Friday morning before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

The budget totals $24.7 billion. The governor says that's a billion dollar decrease from last year.

The Dept. of Health and Hospitals will see a cut of about $50 million because of a drop in federal funds. Jindal says the budget for higher education will see reductions because of the privatization of some of LSU’s hospitals, but not in other areas.

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Politics
6:08 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

John Bel Edwards: First Horse in 2015 La. Governor's Race

John Bel Edwards is the Louisiana House Minority Leader, and may be the only democratic candidate for governor in 2015.
Credit Louisiana House of Representatives

 Louisiana House Minority Leader, John Bel Edwards, threw his hat into the ring for the next gubernatorial race Wednesday morning on the Jim Engster Show

Edwards may see a fundraising advantage by announcing this early, but has a lot to overcome.

Other potential candidates include fellow democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and republicans US Senator David Vitter, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, and State Treasurer John Kennedy.


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