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|Economic development efforts must be funded|
Some state lawmakers are not happy with Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to set aside some $300 million to help lure new business and industry to Louisiana.
The Jindal proposal is included in his roughly $30-billion proposed budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
The Legislature kicked off its Regular Session Monday. One of the topics lawmakers will discuss during the Regular Session entails adopting a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The $300 million Jindal wants to set aside for economic development efforts would be used to provide incentives to convince businesses to locate somewhere in Louisiana, including the so-called "mega" site at Franklin Farms in Richland Parish. State officials say they are engaged in talks with a automobile manufacturer, which, according to officials, is interested in building a plant at Franklin Farms.
The $300 million in question would be peeled out of some $1 billion in excess revenues the Legislature has at its disposal in crafting the state's spending plan for the next fiscal year.
Instead of spending the money on economic development purposes, some lawmakers want to use the $300 million to help meet the mounting demand to fund capital outlay projects in Louisiana. According to Sen. Robert Adley, there are $1.4 billion in capital outlay projects awaiting funding at this time.
While we sympathize with Adley's concern and the concerns other lawmakers express in meeting the state's budgetary needs, particularly on the capital outlay front, we believe Louisiana would be better served in the long-term if the Legislature adhered to Jindal's call to use the $300 million to help convince a prospective employer to locate in the state.
Before the Legislature engages the governor in a drawn-out debate over the expenditure of the $300 million Jindal has his eyes on, lawmakers should closely study which capital outlay projects are vitally important to Louisiana's well being over the long haul.
We suspect they will learn the state could afford to postpone funding some of those capital outlay projects.
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