Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday signed the legislation that authorizes funding for $2.7 billion of construction projects.
House Bill 2 provides funding for a number of local projects, including restoration work on the Old Governor’s Mansion and to the French House on LSU campus, continued widening work on Interstates 10 and 12, as well as equipment for the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, known as LITE, by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“We have a capital outlay bill within reason,” Greene said Friday. About $104 million in funds are available for new projects this year.
Lawmakers included $10 million more than there is money available. The Jindal administration will decide which projects to forward to the State Bond Commission for lines of credit.
In recent years, legislators had resisted giving the governor the power to pick the projects that receive funding by keeping the list of projects close to the amount of money available.
But Greene said being $10 million is reasonable. Sometimes projects get approved but, for one reason or another, are unable to proceed on a timely basis, he said. “You don’t want to leave that bond capacity on the table.”
Louisiana has a cap on annual borrowing that limits construction spending to $340 million this year. Much of it will cover projects given lines of credit in previous years.
Jindal did not exercise his “line-item” veto to remove specific projects. Governors routinely excise funding for projects they don’t endorse or that is pushed by legislators they don’t support. Last year, for instance, Jindal removed funding for developing the Baton Rouge Loop highway project. He also rejected construction funding for projects pushed by state Sens. Robert Adley, R-Benton, and Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, who are frequent Jindal critics.
Construction projects typically are funded over several years.
New funding added to the budget for area projects includes:
• $850,000 for waterproofing and other repairs at the Old Governor’s Mansion.
• $845,000 for environmental control systems at the Old State Capitol.
• $775,000 for heating and air conditioning system upgrades at the State Archives.
• $1 million for the Essen Lane interchange.
• $1 million for LSU’s French House renovation for housing the Honors College.
• $1.4 million to acquire land for a research park near the LSU South Campus.
• $250,000 for an airport aviation business park at Baton Rouge Metro Airport.
• $50,000 for the Metro Aire Shopping Center in Baton Rouge.
• $100,000 for the Odell S. Williams Now and Then Museum of African-American History.