Debt collection office won't seek earmark refund

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The state's new debt collection office won't be trying to recover dollars from two dozen non-governmental organizations that received tax money from lawmakers and didn't file financial reports with the state.

Treasurer John Kennedy wanted the Office of Debt Recovery, starting its work in January, to seek repayment.

But Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield, who oversees the debt collection office, told Kennedy this week that the agency doesn't have the authority to tackle the treasurer's list.

Barfield says the law requires the collection office to handle debts considered final, with no further right of appeal. He says the nonprofits on Kennedy's list still can dispute the repayment.

That punts the issue to the attorney general's office, which will determine whether it will try to get the money back for the state.