Former House Speaker Taylor Barras (center) has been tapped to be Gov.-elect Jeff Landry’s chief budget architect (Piper Hutchinson / Louisiana Illuminator)
LAFAYETTE — Gov.-elect Jeff Landry has named former House Speaker Taylor Barras to be his chief budget architect.
Barras, who currently serves as assessor of Iberia Parish, will take over the Division of Administration from current Commissioner Jay Dardenne, who has served alongside Edwards throughout both terms in office, Landry announced at a Wednesday press conference.
The Division of Administration is a sprawling bureaucracy that touches on many parts of state government. Leading it effectively requires immense institutional knowledge, something that made Dardenne, a former legislator and statewide official, appealing to Edwards.
“If you don’t understand the workings of the legislature and the budget process, which I will tell you is most likely overcomplicated… it will literally eat you,” Landry said.
Landry said Barras, having led the House of Representatives, where all appropriations bills must originate, and served on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax legislation and other fiscal matters, has that knowledge and is uniquely qualified.
Barras’ chief deputy will be Patrick Goldsmith, the chief financial officer of Ascension Parish.
Goldsmith has worked in a variety of roles in state government, including nine years as the fiscal director for the House of Representatives, where he oversaw research and drafting of fiscal bills for the legislature.
“I have no doubt that these two men will be able to find efficiencies and savings in our government so that we can streamline the government so that they can better serve the taxpayers,” Landry said.
While Landry declined to comment on what his budget priorities will be going into his first year, he made overtures toward “fiscal responsibility” and “streamlining government.”
Landry said he believes the current state budget process is overly complicated.
“I think transparency in the budget is key,” Barras said, noting that the budget can be confusing even to experienced legislators.
The team’s first executive budget proposal has to be submitted to the legislature 45 days before the start of the regular legislative session on March 11, with a presentation to the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget no later than 30 days before the start of session.
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