Legislature: Geymann moves to protect coastal funds

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BATON ROUGE — Rep. Brett Geymann continued his efforts Tuesday to reform the state’s budget process when he got committee approval of a bill designed to protect money in the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund and the Budget Stabilization Fund.

Geymann, a Moss Bluff Republican, said the measure is another way to keep Gov. Bobby Jindal from laundering money for his state budgets.

House Bill 490 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote to transfer or remove money from the two funds for other uses.

Geymann said budget reform is a one-step-at-a-time process and that this is another step.

The House Appropriations Committee gave the measure unanimous approval. The bill moves to the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure — standard for constitutional amendments — and then to the House floor.

Geymann’s measure has to be voted on by the people, so it wouldn’t take effect until the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Jindal’s $25 billion budget for fiscal 2014-15 would take $51 million of one-time money out of the coastal fund and use it in the general fund. Geymann said the same procedure was used in 2012 to get general fund money.

Asked how that plan could be derailed this year, Geymann said the budget hasn’t been approved and other revenue could be found or the budget could be cut. He said he didn’t think the budget could be approved if the coastal funds are used for general fund revenues.

A measure passed by Geymann and others in 2013 requires the Revenue Estimating Conference to identify revenues that can be counted on year in and year out (recurring) and those that are one-time funds (nonrecurring).

That is a big plus, he said, and just another way to reform the budget process.

Geymann said the courts ruled against the governor’s use of $3.7 million two years ago from the probation and parole retirement funds, and that is a positive sign for similar funds used for other purposes. The state will have to pay that back.

A $1 billion deficit is forecast for the 2015-16 budget, and some legislators say the financial problems will be worse because Jindal has swept an additional $1 billion over the years from one-time funds.(Associated Press)

Jim Beam / American Press