Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and interim Director of the Louisiana State Museum Steven Maklansky unveil a time capsule, originally buried in 1913 at the base of the P.G.T. Beauregard monument, in New Orleans, La., Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. Excavated when the pedestal was demolished last month, the capsule contains both American and Confederate flags, currency, bonds, newspapers, medals and coins.

As lieutenant governor of Louisiana, I travel to all parts of our state. I log an exorbitant number of miles each month as I journey across the more than 2 million miles of highways, byways, and thoroughfares that connect Louisiana. I am proud that my team and I complete a jam-packed schedule of meetings, events, promotional tours and more each and every day. The result of our work has been nothing short of astonishing as we have welcomed more than 51 million visitors to our state last year, an increase of 500,000 visitors over the previous year. That generated $1.9 billion in state and local sales tax revenues. It is a fact that without taxes paid by the visitors to our state, each household in Louisiana may have to pay an additional $1,082 in taxes, according to the Department of Revenue, just to maintain our state’s current budget spending.

A reporter questioned my reliance on Louisiana State Police security. LSP leadership has strongly suggested that I should have a full-time security detail assigned to me at all times — especially since we witness so many acts of politically motivated violence unfold throughout America. Regardless of the recommendation, I don’t accept a full-time detail because I don’t believe it is always financially prudent. I only agree to one part-time State Trooper whom I use for security only intermittently. I remain very judicious regarding my request for security.

Another flaw in the news report involved my use of a state vehicle and the governor-approved reimbursement I get monthly for use of my own vehicle. I alternate between use of a state car and the use my own vehicle. That saves the state money. I put thousands of miles each month on my own vehicle as I travel the state to promote tourism, and furthermore, I conservatively estimate that I spend about $60,000 annually of my own money to conduct state business. I don’t ask to be reimbursed for the majority of those funds, but I do accept the stipend to my salary that is meant to cover the use of expenses associated with relying on my personal vehicle for state travel. I believe that is quite fair.

I personally found that the story regarding my expenditures was riddled with half-truths, innuendos and unsubstantiated information. Fact is, as lieutenant governor, I have cut millions of dollars in spending by streamlining staff and restructuring departments, but that goes unreported by your news team. We revived our arts and strengthened our state parks, but that goes unreported by your news team. Given our achievements, it is shameful for any journalist to suggest that this department is not running efficiently and/or managing taxpayer dollars properly.

I love serving as our state’s ambassador to open our doors to the world. I will continue to work my traditional 60 to 80-hour work weeks promoting the state that I believe in with all my heart. And I will continue to promote the virtues of a free press, but I believe we have an obligation to set the record straight when truth is mischaracterized. 

Billy Nungesser

lieutenant governor

Baton Rouge