Lack of votes delays capital outlay money

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics


There are 236 capital outlay construction projects that were in line for funding in July, but will have to wait until September possibly, because roughly half of the House failed to fill out and return the latest Interim Emergency Board mail ballots.

Approximately $272 million in funding will now be delayed for these projects.

Only 63 of the 300 projects on the mail ballot were approved by lawmakers, representing the largest ballot in recent memory. It’s also the first time anyone in Division of Administration can remember so many capital outlay changes failing due to a lack of votes.

The vote counts from the House, which has 105 members, ranged between 53 and 57. The Senate, by comparison, voted to approve all 300 projects on the mail ballot that was sent out recently.

It doesn’t appear to be intentional, but rather a lack of participation due to a number of factors described by House members as “trying to catch up after the Mardi Gras holiday,” the “budget talks took all my attention” and the “sheer size of the ballot.”

“I can’t believe they did this,” said a senator in regard to the House vote. “I had reps from my own district not voting for projects that we worked on together.”

The capital outlay bill is divided into and numbered, one through five, by priorities, and the administration wanted to move the projects from priority two to priority five.

New projects are placed in priority two, ongoing projects are in priority one and the trailing money for future projects is in priority five.

Projects impacted include levee work and river dredging, as well as items for the World War II Museum, among many others.

The Interim Emergency Board will not reconvene, nor will a new mail ballot be sent to lawmakers. Rather, the administration believes it can make the necessary changes during session.

The official goal of the ballot was to prioritize projects in order to move them to priority one. But other sources suggest the administration was stretched thin on promises it made to lawmakers last session on capital outlay projects and the changes were needed to not only show those promised projects were moving, but to also free up space in priority two for more sweeteners to be offered to lawmakers in the upcoming session.

Asked for comment, Division of Administration spokesperson Gregory Dupuis said, “The priority system helps to ensure that projects can get the funding they need as their projects enter new phases of development and construction.”