The House Appropriations Committee approved the budget bill – HB 1 – Monday. But first, members exhibited their expertise in using the news for clues which couch cushions to look under for loose change.
Houma Rep. Joe Harrison snagged some Racing Commission money for the Board of Regents, which he discovered in a recent report from the Legislative Auditor.
“The Racing Commission, since the inception of ‘gaming’, was supposed to be giving a percentage of its money, its budget, to Regents,” Harrison told the committee. “So we can only go back five years, but that amounts to $2.8 million.”
Covington Rep. John Schroder found some spare change for disabilities programs by looking in the Department of Economic Development.
“This actually came off Secretary Moret’s salary, which is $452-thousand. As you know, Secretary Moret’s not there,” Schroder reported. “And the undersecretary is $338-thousand.”
Stephen Moret began working for the LSU Foundation Monday, and Governor Jindal appointed undersecretary Steven Grissom to take over the department.
New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno rummaged for more funding for the Louisiana Tumor Registry.
“That’s the registry that deals with the collection and analysis of data regarding cancer in our state,” Moreno reminded the committee. The recommended cuts to that agency left the registry short of state dollars needed for the federal match.
“They get about $3.5-million worth of federal funds every year, and we can’t afford to lose it,” Moreno explained.
The source she initially found to fully fund the registry didn’t pass muster with Appropriations chair Jim Fannin. Fortunately, fellow New Orleanian Walt Leger had another place for scavenging to recommend — the travel budget for the Department of Economic Development.
“I think if we could modify this amendment to take it out of travel, we shouldn’t have a problem, because they’ve doubled the expenditure from FY 13-14 to FY 15-16,” Leger explained.
The budget, with spare change included, will be debated by the full House next week, on Thursday, May 21.