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Living on the taxpayer's dime: 3 Investigates state official perks

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BATON ROUGE, La - The Superintendent of Louisiana State Police, Colonel Mike Edmonson, has been thrust into a different limelight recently, after a new law gave him a pension boost given to almost no one else. And now we're learning of another perk he enjoys. And this perk isn't exclusive to him. 

The residential conference center, otherwise known as the Colonel's Home, is the house of Colonel Edmonson and his family. You may be interested to know that it's well taken care of, because you're paying for it. 

Since 2010 - Louisiana taxpayers have spent over $34,000 repairing and maintaining the home. That doesn't include utilities, but does include everything from the cable bill, to sheets for the bed, to repairing the toilet. Janitorial services are provided by inmates from the Louisiana Prison System - something they do for many state buildings. One inmate is assigned to the home each day. Meanwhile, Colonel Edmonson has made $134,351 each year for the past five years as superintendent of state police - so you could say the house is a perk. 

But according to Captain Doug Cain, the Public Affairs Commander for LSP, we should consider that salary in context of Edmonson's responsibilities. Edmondson is responsible for nearly 3-thousand employees and oversees a budget of almost half a billion dollars. So this home is one way to further compensate him, and to carry on a tradition. The first colonel's home was originally built in the 1950s, when the superintendent of state police and his family were getting death threats. And when the new Louisiana State Police complex was built, our leaders chose to rebuild the colonel's home there. Captain Cain tells KTBS the home can also be used by the state if they need it for a variety of purposes. 

But this isn't the only housing you're helping to pay for. About 20 minutes down the road are what's well known as the Pentagon Barracks. Since the 1700s - the barracks have been won and lost by the Spanish, French, and British. After the Civil War, it was turned over to Louisiana State University, and today - it houses reception and office space for Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne - and private apartments for select state legislators. Being a state owned building, the barracks are maintained on the taxpayer's dime. 

Members of the legislature do pay rent, but rates are considerably lower than what is commonly available in Baton Rouge. Rates vary from $185/month to $625/month for one and two bedrooms - utilities included. That's a pretty sweet deal compared to what one bedrooms typically go for in the capital - about $700 to 1000/month. That's according to a rental expert from the area. Members of the Louisiana Legislature make $16,800 a year, with another $6,000 for expenses, and $149 a day per diem - and that's of course just for their job as a legislator. Even if a legislator was paying the highest rent - $625/month - by his or herself, and paid it for 12 months out of the year, something not all of them do, it would amount to an annual rent bill of $7,500 dollars. 

So while our tax dollars do go toward some projects we all benefit from, there are some quiet perks that only help a select few live quite well. As we reported, colonel mike Edmonson has recently been caught in the middle of a legal controversy. 

Back to the “Edmonson Amendment,” (a last minute law created behind closed doors signed by the Governor giving a big retirement boost to two state police employees - including Edmonson, and no one else), The Louisiana State Police Retirement System hired outside counsel to determine the constitutionality of the law - and their attorney's found the bill was passed in an unconstitutional manner.  Their legal counsel recommends that the LSPRS refuse to pay the benefits. If Edmonson and the other trooper challenge that, it would become the attorney general's responsibility to defend the law. Edmonson has already said he will not accept the boost.

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