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Scaffolding being constructed around the LSU Memorial Tower encircles the building, waiting for completion and approval from structural engineers before the start of waterproofing work and renovations to the tower, or the Campanile, as it is sometimes called, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Associated Waterproofing Corporation president Martin Mapp said plaster repairs, crack injection, and expansion joint recaulking are part of his company's purview, with renovations and other work coming from others including general contractor Cangelosi Ward, Jerry M. Campbell & Associates Architects and Bob's Painting. The 175-foot clock tower near the center of campus was erected in 1923 and officially dedicated in 1926, standing as a memorial to Louisianans who died in World War I. The scaffolding construction has been under way for about two weeks.

Gov. John Bel Edwards approved borrowing for renovations to the LSU Memorial Tower and to the New Orleans City Park in signing the two bills that authorize spending for construction projects.

And with the release of those signed bills, the 2019 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature is over.

The governor has signed or vetoed every measure that was approved by both chambers of the Legislature and sent to his desk. (He has never allowed legislation to go into law without his signature.)

He vetoed eight measures and signed 448 bills, including a $30 billion operating budget for the state fiscal year that began Monday and will run to June 30, 2020.

Before signing the construction budget into law, Edwards stripped $18 million in projects from the legislation with his line-item veto.

He cut authorizations to spend on some of the renovations to a Science Building and Acadian Center kitchen repairs on the LSU-Eunice campus, along with some infrastructure improvements, also in Acadia Parish.

He also struck lighting for ball fields as well as a new pavilion in Bossier Parish, plus a pavilion in Jefferson Parish’s Bucktown.

Edwards initially recommended the state borrow money to pay for $679 million in top priority projects and an additional $128 million in second tier projects. But by the time the legislation was approved by both the House and the Senate on the last day of the session, general obligation bond appropriations had grown to $767 million in priority 1 projects and an additional $305 million for the second priority projects, which was $235 million more than the state would be allowed to borrow.

“Not only does the capital outlay budget for Fiscal Year 2020 contain appropriations that are not possible for the upcoming year, it also increases possible spending in out years by more than 30%. Further, this will create significant challenges in this year and in following years to generate the capacity necessary to fund the infrastructure projects needed in this state,” Edwards wrote in his line-item veto letter.

But the construction bill includes nearly $30 million for airport improvements; $94 million for construction of roads and bridges; plus almost $40 million for drinking water infrastructure.

New Orleans City Park received authority to sell $2.5 million bonds and raise money for improvements including a Splash Park and $111,171 in cash for the Golf Complex.

The new and expansive Interstate 10 Welcome Center at the Texas border is receiving $701,600 in bonds.

Lafayette Regional Airport received $10.2 million to help with construction of a new terminal.

In Baton Rouge, the Pecue Lane-I-10 Interchange is getting $13.3 million in bond money to start and authority for another $24 million in “trailing money” in future years.

Officials can borrow $2 million to continue renovating LSU Memorial Tower and can pick up another $1.5 million if the state has any leftover capacity after the top priorities are covered.


Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.