Legislation that would provide public school districts with about $7 million for enrollment growth was temporarily shelved Friday, this time over a possible spat between the Louisiana Legislature and Attorney General Jeff Landry.
School officials have said that, unless the aid is approved, districts will be forced to return the money to the state even though it is typically covered by lawmakers.
House Bill 1047 would do just that.
But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, sponsor of the bill, said more time is needed to make sure the source of the funds is solid.
The money was added in the state Senate on Thursday at the urging of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte.
The source is believed to be an escrow account in the office of Landry, who has clashed with lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards over a variety of topics, including the possibility of having a separate budget.
Henry said the Legislature has to come up with the roughly $7 million to cover enrollment growth.
“We’ve got to cover it,” he told the House.
Henry said if the money has not been recognized by the Revenue Estimating Conference, it cannot be spent.
“I am trying to make sure the money is actually there,” he said.
Several lawmakers questioned Henry on reasons for the delay and on where the $7 million would come from if the current funding source is not workable.
State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said she is concerned Landry’s office is having “trepidations” over the fact the money would come from its account.
“I don’t want to get into a you-know-what kind of match between the Attorney General’s Office and this body because he doesn’t want to have any money taken from him,” Smith said.
“In fact, he wants to have his own fiefdom, in my opinion,” she said.
The issue may return for House debate on Sunday.
The House convenes at 3 p.m. that day.
The Legislature adjourns at 6 p.m. Monday.