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Undedicating the Dollars

Media Commons

When discussing Louisiana’s budget troubles, the blame is often laid on statutory dedications.

“We have $400-million of taxpayer money tied up in statutory dedications. We need to unlock that money,” Treasurer John Kennedy frequently criticizes.

Four House members -- Chris Broadwater, Rick Edmonds, Kirk Talbot and Jay Morris – all Republicans – decided to try it.

“They’re not going to be automatically funded without us taking a look at ‘em,” Morris said when presenting his bill in House Appropriations Monday.

“This frees up about $640-million,” Talbot said of the fiscal note on his bill, which mirrored the other three.

Broadwater said he believes technically, the bill isn’t necessary.

“We already are able to apportion this money, each and every time we vote on House Bill 1. But this does remove that argument that you can’t touch it.”

The bills repeal more than a hundred statutes that set up dedicated funds, sending the money back into the State General Fund, instead.

It didn’t take long for some committee members to find items they disagreed with in the bills.

“Mr. Chaney for a question on the bill,” Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry said.

“At what point do you want to offer some amendments as to potentially removing funds from this list?” Chaney asked. “Is it now, or later?”

“Later,” Broadwater said, quickly.

“If never is an option, I would prefer to take never as an option,” Chairman Henry responded, with a chuckle.

Yet an avalanche of amendments followed: to remove the gaming fund for horse race purses, the fund for fire training at LSU, the telecommunications fund for the deaf, and more waiting in line.

“How many more amendments do we have?” Chaney asked.

“Put it this way, there are several more amendments coming forth,” Henry replied, with a sigh.

“You see what happens when you try to undedicate ‘em?” Rep. John Schroder observed. “You either have to undedicate all or none. That said, I think the authors ought to pull the bill.”

Instead, there was a motion to end consideration of any further amendments, which passed. That was followed by approval of one of the quartet of bills, H.B. 100 did house bill 100. It now heads to the full House for a vote.