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We've collected a stories about the 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session. What new bill is coming up for a vote? How are lawmakers doing in protecting higher education and health care from cuts? What other initiatives are in the works for Louisiana? Find them here.

Capital Outlay: The Carrot and the Stick

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Today the full House considers HB 2, the Capital Outlay bill. That’s the list of state and local construction projects authorized for the next fiscal year.

“We had about 1500 requests this year, representing about $4.6 billion,” Mark Moses with the Office of Facility Planning and Control told the House Ways and Means committee Tuesday. He also said the projects listed in HB 2 already exceed the money available.

“This year’s over-appropriation amount is $258-million.”

Then Wednesday, Moses told the House and Governmental Affairs committee their peers had added more projects to the list.

“The amount of funding that was added in Ways and Means was about 69 million dollars,” Moses stated.

House and Governmental Affairs members weren’t getting the update on HB 2 in preparation for today’s debate of the bill. Instead, they were considering another bill changing House rules to halt the overloading of the Capital Outlay bill. The author, river ridge representative kirk talbot.

“The way the system is now, it clearly does not work,” the measure’s author, River Ridge Rep. Kirk Talbot said. “You know the governor controls what gets funded and what doesn’t.”

Capital Outlay is generally acknowledged to be the governor’s “carrot and stick”. Vote with him, and the projects for your legislative district stay in. Vote against him, and your projects are out.

“The governor’s office never fails to orient us on Capital Outlay, I can assure you of that…which may be none for me now,” Talbot told the committee, ruefully.

Houma Rep. Gordon Dove spoke against the proposed rule, saying it would limit the state’s flexibility to move funding from lagging projects to others that might be more urgent. Gonzales Rep. Johnny Berthelot didn’t buy that reasoning.

“It’s not fair,” Berthelot remonstrated. "By over-committing the dollars, it makes it a pick-and-choose situation. Do you agree?”

Dove said that’s just how it is.

“According to our constitution, as long as the governor has line item veto, he or she is going to control what projects come up.”

The rule was amended to make it effective next year, and it’s now headed for a full House vote. 

Copyright 2015 WRKF

Sue Lincoln is a veteran reporter in the political arena. Her radio experience began in the early ’80s, in “the other L-A” — Los Angeles.
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