BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – One of the governor’s top cabinet members gave an update on the state budget with insight into withheld funds for New Orleans and the Superdome.
The State Bond Commission held back millions of dollars for construction projects in a vote last week. It will only delay the funding by a month, but there is confusion on why it did not get approval. It is believed to be motivated by the state GOP’s response to the proof of vaccine rules in New Orleans.
“To me, it seems it was designed to send a message to New Orleans because of the dissatisfaction with the policies that are taking place there,” said Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne. “At the end of the day though those projects, I believe, are going to be approved. They’re that important to the state.”
Dardenne said these projects have already begun and it was a vote to reauthorize the funding which normally is not delayed. If the projects don’t get approval next month, he said it could present an issue.
He reports the state is doing well financially with a surplus of revenue and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding flowing through the state. There is still around $1.5B in federal dollars to be allocated by the legislature in the next session.
“None of this money will be plugged into our operating budget and I think it can all be used for very worthy projects. It’s just going to be a question of which ones are they,” Dardenne said.
All the money allocated this session won’t be completely used and he hopes anything left over will go to one-time spending on infrastructure the legislature normally doesn’t have the funding to focus on.
“The most important need in the state for one-time money is for infrastructure needs because we know the difficulties we have with our roads, our bridges, our ports, our broadband. Our needs are much greater than we have dollars for,” Dardenne said.
He also touched on ARPA funding going towards cities and villages to help with the impact of the pandemic and he urged every town to apply.