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  • Writer's pictureJoel David Massey

Rundown of Louisiana’s $44.2 Billion Budget, Where is Your Money Going?

BATON ROUGE, LA.—Gov. Jeff Landry and state lawmakers have passed a budget that goes into effect July 1.  So how did they do?  You be the judge. 



Hundreds of millions will be spent on infrastructure projects and maintaining teacher pay as well as upgrading prisons, youth incarceration facilities and expanding state police.

According the the National Association of State Budget Offices, a professional group for the nation’s budget and finance officers, Louisiana is set to spend $4 billion less than they did in Gov. John Bel Edward’s last year in office.


The clock is running on Landry’s chance to veto anything he doesn’t like and lawmakers rarely challenge a governor on those decisions with a veto override.


Landry, legis on crime

The new governor started the year with a special session on crime.  In his opening speech he highlighted by some particularly horrendous crimes and family member who were in attendance in the House chamber.

One such crime that had people talking was a New Orleans carjacking in which the drivers arm got stuck in the window.  The victim ended up losing her arm.


The legislature responded by taking about $100 million out of a state savings account to enhance local and state facilities that hold incarcerated youth and they passed measures to again try 17-year-olds as adults.


According to some, older offenders often get juveniles to commit crimes because they know that they will likely not face stiff penalties in the court system.


Local jails will get $1.2 million more to hold incarcerated teens, their daily reimbursement rate going for the youngsters going up (the exact amount has not been released).  But some in the system say they do not want the teens in with the general population.  Back in April the Baton Rouge Advocate reported that neither of their jails want to house 17-year-olds begging the question, “Where will they go?”


Here locally Rapides Parish voters rejected a tax renewal that would have funded improvements to the Renaissance Home for Youth as well as housing costs despite support from Sheriff Mark Wood and Sen. Jay Lundeau (D), Pineville, District 29.


State troopers, wildlife agents, judges get pay boost

A salary increase is on the way for state police ($9 million) and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents ($4 million).  State police patrol officers will also see a wage increase for working “abnormal hours” from 50 cents to $5 more per hour at a cost of $3.3 million.





Judges from the Louisiana Supreme Court down to the city court level will be allowed to use funds for a one-year pay stipend in exchange for completion of an independent study of their workloads across the state court system.


Fortifications for roofs

Fifteen million dollars more will go toward a roof fortification program started under the Edwards administration, and residents can draw grants to help improve their roofs in an effort to lower homeowner insurance rates.  About 2,500 households were expected to be helped as of last year at a cost of $25 million.


Photo Credit: Greg Pickens


Cabinet raises for Landry’s members

The governor gave 11 of his 14 cabinet members salary increases effective July 1, recommending six get at least $20,000 more in compensation than their predecessors.


The largest bump went to Tyler Gray, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, who in his last job ran one of the state’s largest oil and gas lobby organizations.  His pay will increase by $60,000 from $139,734 to $200,000.


Infrastructure improvements

Three-hundred-ninety million will be spent toward repairs for existing roads and bridges, so-called “shovel ready” projects that won’t be used toward planning and design purposes.


The money comes from the $717 million that the legislature withdrew from a state savings account.


DOTD

Reduction to early childhood education seats

Legislators reduced funding for early childhood education by $9 million from the current year.  After the Council of 100 Chamber of Commerce members opposed the removal of $24.3 million for youngsters aged birth to three—citing the all-important brain development during that time—it was put back in the budget.  The money will go to fund spots for childcare and early learning for about 2,000 kids from lower income households.


House Speaker Phillip DeVallier (R), Eunice, agreed with helping children who are 3 and 4, but questioned whether babies and toddlers benefit from early education.


And that’s a look at where your tax dollars are being spent statewide.


What is your take on this?  I would love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment or shoot me an email.  JoelD.Massey@gmail.com

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Based on personal interviews as well as reporting by Julie O’Donoghue, Greg Larose, Louisiana Illuminator.


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