Jeremy Alford

Louisiana earmarks up for debate

by Jeremy Alford

During budget debates in recent years, average citizens, editorial writers and good government groups have all winced at the sight of funding for hot air balloon races and high school alumni groups. Why? Because it’s your money that’s supporting these questionable activities and groups.

These earmarks are traditionally included in the state budget without information as to how the taxpayer money will be spent or who benefits. That’s why some folks call it pork, or even political payout. Additionally, many of the earmarks support nonprofit organizations — some of which receive virtually all of their revenue from state government grants sponsored by individual legislators.

“The question isn’t whether or not these organizations do some good in our state, it’s how efficient is the job they are doing,” says Treasurer John Kennedy. “If the state is going to continue to give money to these non-profit organizations, at the very least taxpayers statewide deserve full disclosure about these projects.” 
As a possible solution, Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, a Jennings Republican, has filed Senate

Bill 106 to force lawmakers to reveal every last detail about their earmarks. Each funding request would have to include budget information, project goals, objectives and even information about connections with elected officials. Kennedy is among the bill’s supporters and plans on testifying when the Senate Finance Committee takes up the measure.