Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum in Natchitoches

A new state museum in Natchitoches continues to be funded with dollars that should be going to out-of-state tourism marketing efforts, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Monday.

Dardenne said the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame should get state dollars for operations instead of tapping a fund dedicated to tourism efforts.

“If we did not do that, we would not have been able to open a $20 million museum that taxpayers have paid for,” said Dardenne. But, he added, operational funds “ought to come out of the state general fund and not the tourism budget,” he told the Senate Finance Committee as he sought relief.

“Every dollar (spent) that’s a dollar we don’t spend on marketing out-of-state,” Dardenne said, and there’s less opportunity to increase visitors to Louisaina.

In 2012, Dardenne said more people visited Louisiana than ever before with 26.3 million visitors who left behind about one-third of $1 billion in tax revenues. “The more we have to spend out of state … the more people are going to come,” he said.

Dardenne has complained for years about the Jindal administration’s diversion of money from a special dedicated tourism marketing fund for operational costs at his agency as well as state commitments for major national sporting events in New Orleans. He said state dollars should be appropriated instead of money generated by a small fraction of cent sales tax that raises between $22 million and $24 million annually for tourism marketing.