Many state boards are not necessary
Louisiana’s past budget woes easily raise questions on how the state is spending its money. And a new report will likely get people talking about the money spent on boards and commissions.
A report issued earlier this month by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor shows that Louisiana has more state boards and commissions today than it did four years ago, close to 480.
According to the audit, $1.3 million is anticipated to be spent this budget cycle on per diems for boards and commissions. Another $1.7 is estimated to be spent on salaries, and $2.1 million will be spent on travel costs to meetings.
The Louisiana Tax Commission leads the way in terms of anticipated spending, with just over $320,000 in the current budget cycle. Second is the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, at $232,000. Five more boards and commissions have more than $100,000 in expected spending.
Three state boards — Board of Louisiana River Pilot Review and Oversight, the Vermilion and Iberia Railroad Development District Board of Commissioners and Work Out Now: WON Louisiana Legislative Commission — didn’t even work with the auditor. Their spending remains unknown. Other entities did the same thing to auditors last year.
Another glaring figure is the 14 inactive state boards and commissions mentioned in the audit. The auditor recommends abolishing them. There’s no point in keeping those boards around, especially if they lack the money needed to function.
One of the boards that the audit recommends shutting down is the Workforce & Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund Strategic Planning Council. Then-Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed for the creation of the WISE fund in 2014 as a way to get colleges to focus on filling jobs in high-demand markets, like science, engineering, technology and math. But the state’s ongoing budget woes made it difficult to come up with the fund’s overall goal.
Using recovery money from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike as a source for the WISE fund made it difficult to spend because it had to follow federal guidelines.
This audit brings up some points that state lawmakers should consider next year. It’s time to go ahead and get rid of the more than a dozen inactive boards. Legislators should also take time to research whether these boards, and their associated spending, are completely necessary.