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Editorial: Jindal makes hard choices

Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 10:45 PM

Most legislators are more concerned with “bringing home the bacon” rather than being fiscally responsible. It is often left up to the governor to make the hard choices on what state construction projects move forward and which to scuttle.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, to the consternation of many politicians and special interests, has shown he is fairly adept at making those hard choices when they land on his desk.

The Jindal administration recommended scuttling money for existing projects recently to generate roughly $105 million for new projects.

The State Bond Commission backed the shuffling of funds, which frees up dollars for projects such as revamping a boat launch on the Amite River, replacing hot water pipes at Southern University in Baton Rouge and continuing renovations of the community center in Westwego. Only State Treasurer John Kennedy raised objections at the meeting, saying the Jindal administration’s juggling pushed existing projects to the back of the line.

“We’ve started projects that you said needed ... money in July. Every one of them was shovel ready. Now 90 of them are shutting down. Some have spent taxpayer money, and they go to the back of the line. That’s not managing cashflow to me,” Kennedy complained during a meeting of the State Bond Commission.

Mark A. Moses, who oversees the construction budget for the Jindal administration, said the $80 million in canceled funding came from projects that were complete and had leftover money or from projects that stalled. For example, Moses said, work hasn’t been done on the overlay of Bayou Drive in Assumption Parish since 2010 because the project needs an additional appropriation from the Legislature.

The administration recommended that the state also not move forward on:

n $11.6 million to build a new Office of Public Health central laboratory.

n $800,000 to patch, repair and overlay La. 3038 in Gonzales.

n $100,000 to help restore Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans.

n $100,000 to build a bureau for State Police in St. Tammany Parish.

n $70,000 to widen the sidewalk on Stanford Avenue near LSU in Baton Rouge.

Simmesport Mayor Eric John Rusk wrote the Jindal administration and the bond commission to implore them not to rescind $390,000 for an evacuation shelter and community center in his Avoyelles Parish town. “The town is currently under contract to purchase ... the building. This agreement should be executed within the next 4 months,” Rusk wrote.

The bond commission brushed aside Rusk’s plea and pulled the funding. The $80 million shuffled from ongoing projects was merged with $25 million in capacity already available for new projects.

Moses said legislators piled more projects into the state construction, or capital outlay, budget than the state can afford. “For every one dollar we can fund, there’s about $13 we can’t fund,” he said.

Making his first appearance before the bond commission, Moses said the administration picked projects that represent the best investments for Louisiana. He said the Jindal administration wants to create spaces for the future rather than just repairing or replacing buildings.

Despite raising objections to the administration’s approach, Kennedy voted in favor of it along with the rest of the bond commission.

Someone has to make the hard fiscal decisions when there are limited funds, and in this case the governor is doing the right thing.

  • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

Posted By: David Lubrano On: 10/28/2013

Title: Kundalini makes tough choices!!!

Yea choices like spending $2 million on a memorial of sorts of past govener Foster!
How much money has this pig cut from the elderly, and mentalil challenged people if this state . That is just for starters.
For him to want to take $ 2 million and waste it on something so unneeded and unwanted.
Jindal should be committed to a mental health facility.
Oh I for got he has closed them all down.
Funny how the American Press paper of Lake Charles could not find the room in there paper to print the Foster memorial!!!

Posted By: Patrick Robinson On: 10/28/2013

Title: 2 Million Dollars to fund a library for Mike Foster?

Are you kidding me, or are you Brain Dead? I asked you in my comments yesterday why The Lake Charles American Press was the only daily newspaper in the state to NOT report on Bobby Jindal's announcement he approved the expenditure of almost 2 million dollars of state taxpayer money on a library for Mike Foster. (My comments are still there in case you need to refer to them.) And then I asked you what your opinion was concerning this expenditure AND THIS IS YOUR RESPONSE? You guys are hilarious!

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