Several months ago, I suggested using the $500 Million slush fund controlled by the ethically-challenged, head of economic development Stephen Moret to fill the projected shortfall in the state’s current Operating Budget rather than cutting higher education and healthcare.
The response from the State Budget Officer was that the money could legally be used only for limited purposes.
According to LA R.S. 51:2365 which established the slush fund it is to be used for “economic development mega-projects which may be necessary in order to successfully secure the creation or retention of jobs by a business entity….” (Emphasis mine)
The law defines “mega-project” as “any project which will provide all of the following (Emphasis mine):”
(i) Five hundred new direct jobs to the state.
(ii) A minimum initial investment of one hundred million dollars by the private sector or the United States Government through the creation of a new facility or the expansion of an existing facility.
(iii) A substantial return on the investment by the state as measured by projected tax revenues.
(b) “Mega-project” shall also mean any project for a military or federal installation which is important to the Louisiana economy and that may be subject to base realignment and closure and purchase of land for a mega-project.”
As of February 13, 2009, the slush fund has been used for the following expenditures:
1. $48.6 Million for a “support workers raise.”*
2. $ 2.7 Million for ULM School of Pharmacy**
3. $ 1.5 Million for ULM School of Pharmacy**
*In 2008 Regular Session an amendment was added to the law to allow: “for Fiscal Year 2008-2009, the monies in the fund may be used to provide a one-time salary supplement for all school support personnel and nonpublic lunchroom employees eligible for state salary supplements….”
**Neither of the two expenditures for ULM appear to be legal.
The balance in the slush fund as of February 13, 2009, was $414,893,935.00.
Now you know what Bobby Jindal, Stephen Moret and the leges think is “economic development” because the law required them to approve the above expenditures.
We were sold a slush fund disguised as a fund for economic development.
You now know that the law in Louisiana doesn’t mean a thing especially not to those who make them.