The Jindal administration scuttled construction funding Thursday for the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission, the Baton Rouge airport, a local museum and other projects.
Legislators earlier this year approved more new state construction funding, called capital outlay dollars, than the state can afford.
The Jindal administration decided which projects moved forward. Among the previously approved funding tossed onto the chopping block was:
• $1 million for the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission.
• $250,000 for an aviation business park at Baton Rouge Metro Airport.
• $110,000 for False River Regional Airport.
• $100,000 for the Odell S. Williams Now and Then Museum of African-American History in Baton Rouge.
• $100,000 for a veterinary biologic facility in East Baton Rouge Parish.
New funding for what are called priority 2 projects in the state construction budget are divvied up between state projects and non-state projects with state projects receiving the bulk of the dollars.
Assistant Commissioner Jerry Jones with the state Division of Administration told the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay that $40 million was available for new non-state projects.
He said legislators over-appropriated by $10.9 million.
Other funding not making the cut: $200,000 for an Iberville Parish community center, $2 million for drainage in Jefferson Parish and $485,000 for sewer system repairs in Bogalusa.
A number of projects will move forward, including several in the Baton Rouge area. They include:
• $1 million to renovate LSU’s French House.
• $850,000 for repairs at the Old Governor’s Mansion.
• $600,000 for Hooper Road sewer improvements.
• $250,000 for a new federally qualified health center serving East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes.
The list of projects approved by the committee Thursday now goes to the state Bond Commission.
“The bottom line is we just don’t have enough money to do all of them,” said state Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Greene asked why the Jindal administration chose to purge the Baton Rouge airport’s business park.
Jones said the project already lacked enough funding.
Posing the question the administration applied to similar projects, he asked: “Can we advance the project with the dollars they’re asking for?” Jones said the Jindal administration determined the project could not advance.
Jim Caldwell, spokesman for the airport, said after the meeting that organizers will pursue other funding avenues.
The $12 million Aviation Business Park is planned for 300 acres north of the airport terminal. The project includes an access road, aprons, taxiways and a public safety building that will focus on aviation.
“This is early. It’s just the first phase. We’re moving forward,” Caldwell said.
At south Baton Rouge’s Odell S. Williams Now and Then Museum of African-American History, curator Sadie Roberts-Joseph expressed disappointment at the administration’s decision.
She said she was depending on the state funding to expand her museum beyond its cramped five rooms.
“We will continue to struggle,” Roberts-Joseph said. “We are very disappointed that it did not happen.”
She said the museum will continue to rely on grants, admission and membership dues to survive.
Jay Hardman, executive director of the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission, said he was relying on the $1 million to build another dock for general cargo at the Inland Rivers Marine Terminal.
The terminal is located on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Hardman said he was getting conflicting information Thursday on whether the $1 million will move forward.
Michael DiResto, spokesman for the Division of Administration, said the funding is not being recommended.