Did you ever wonder why taxes go up (think tuition and “user fees”) and yet our colleges and health care get cut every time the legislature meets?
It’s not because the state doesn’t have enough of your money. Current year revenue is estimated to be $25.6 billion, up $6.5 billion or 34% from the $19 billion budget in 2005.
The answer lies in how Louisiana state government spends your money.
For example, we have around 19,000 contracts. Some are to build things we need but too many are to do things we shouldn’t, at least not at the expense of our priorities.
Many Louisiana newspapers have reported eloquently about some of the state’s larger contracts (and the lack of transparency surrounding them) but there are also thousands of “smaller” ones. Below are just a few. You be the judge. Don’t ask whether these are good things to do. Ask yourself instead whether the following consulting contracts are as or more important than colleges, health care, roads, ports, schools, coastal restoration and private sector job creation:
- Contract #672113; “Contractor to provide program that will assist students to learn valuable social skills through organized play on their recess and lunch periods;” $94,000; DOE
- Contract #708691; “Inform and educate the Hispanic community in Rapides and Natchitoches Parish of seat belt usage;” $57,100; HSC
- Contract #681869; “State sponsorship of Chimpanzee Discovery Days, involving broad media attention to observation of chimpanzees in a spacious forestry habitat;” $10,000; DWF
- Contract #613917; “Conduct a statewide multimedia public awareness campaign to educate the citizens of Louisiana about the effects of litter;” $6,800,000; DWF
- Contract #660531; “Teach participants the skills needed to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle through gainful employment;” $547,790; DHH
- Contract #702019; “Provide spiritual and religious guidance to inmates … and serve as imam [Muslim spiritual advisor];” $38,940; DPSC (similar contracts total $126,400)
- Contract #674139; “Contractor to provide valid and reliable data to parents to support informed school choice decisions;” $250,000; DOE
- Contract #681519; “To provide diversity training to GOHSEP supervisors and managers;” $20,000; GOHSEP
- Contract #686276; “One day seminar, Leadership Disney Style, on November 18, 2009 for the DCRT Leadership Academy;” $21,274; DCRT
- Contract #710616; “Coordinate two (2) supervised Golden Glove boxing tournaments;” $19,500; DHH
- Contract #658942; “Recruit, manage, provide technical assistance, train, on-going support services to disadvantaged business enterprise companies doing business with DOTD;” $874,930; DOTD
- Contract #656786; “The contractor will develop a CD and workbook to enhance students’ cognitive and memory skills in recalling mathematical skills through the use of music;” $300,000; DOE
- Contract #703515; “Teach leisure classes for LSU Student Union – dance classes;” $64,237; LSU
I could also tell you about the contracts with the Hop 2 It Music Co. and the Smile and Happiness Foundation, and in the “Strategies to Empower People” program, but you get the point.
Last session, by a vote of 94-0, the House of Representatives passed HB 327 by Rep. Dee Richard that would have reduced the state’s consulting contracts by 10%, as recommended by the Louisiana Streamlining Government Commission. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously defeated the bill.
Louisiana taxpayers deserve better. Louisiana state government can do better.