Jindal Strips Items From Construction Budget

Fri July 09, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Melinda Deslatte - ASSOCIATED PRESS

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Gov. Bobby Jindal cut $9.4 million in projects that lawmakers added to the state’s annual construction budget bill, with a series of line-item vetoes July 2.

Among the eight items scrapped by Jindal were a drainage project in Jefferson Parish, a courthouse annex in Webster Parish, a sidewalk improvement in Pineville, wastewater collection improvements in Sibley and a restoration project at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum.

Several of the projects removed by the governor are in or near the districts of lawmakers who fought the Jindal administration on various issues during the recently ended legislative session. That mirrors his action on another state budget bill, in which the governor’s vetoes heavily hit earmarks from lawmakers who crossed his administration this session.

Also stripped from the construction budget was $5 million for planning and study of a proposed interstate loop around the Baton Rouge area. The project had divided the regional delegation and prompted angry debate during the session.

In his veto message for the loop, Jindal cited the lack of agreement from local lawmakers.

“Without the consensus of the public and the legislative delegation, the success of the project is in question. It would therefore be premature to fund the planning of such a large and controversial project until a consensus can be achieved,” the governor wrote.

The state’s annual construction budget, called the capital outlay bill, details $4.7 billion in multiyear spending plans.

Also vetoed July 2 were bills that would:

• Prohibit students under 17 from enrolling in adult education courses. Under current law, 16-year-olds can participate in adult education programs for certain reasons like family hardship, illness and incarceration.

• Divert $3.6 million in state money slated for education programs to reimburse the city of New Orleans for support services it provides to Harrah’s downtown New Orleans casino.

• Give lawmakers the ability to reject privatization contracts involving Louisiana’s inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities.

• Create a board within the education department to provide coordination, funding and assistance with public school construction and repair projects. Jindal has vetoed similar bills in previous years.

• Create a hydroelectric district in St. Mary Parish with authority over water resources in the area.

• Change how space is allocated in several state buildings, including the Louisiana Capitol.

• Give a legislative subcommittee more authority over contract negotiations and settlements in executive branch departments.

Jindal has vetoed 12 bills from the legislative session and stripped several items from budget bills with his line-item veto.

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