After a four year struggle, the Louisiana Legislature has at last passed a bill to reform state spending on consultants and dedicate the savings to higher education. HB 142, by Rep. Dee Richard, is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
As amended, HB 142 would do the following:
- All consulting contracts using state taxpayer dollars and costing $40,000 a year or more must be reported to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget (the JLCB, comprised of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees).
- A list of these contracts will be public documents and therefore available to the public and the press when forwarded to the JLCB.
- If the JLCB does not place a particular contract on its agenda within 30 days of receiving the contract, the contract is automatically approved. If, however, within 30 days, the contract is placed on the agenda, it will require the JLCB’s approval in an open, public meeting.The JLCB may either approve the contract, recommend revisions to it, or reject the contract.
- The money for rejected contracts will be deposited into the new Higher Education Financing Fund in the state Treasury, which will be dedicated to public post secondary education institutions.
- If the JLCB recommends revisions to a contract, it will not become effective until it is revised, resubmitted to the JLCB and approved. If the contract is not resubmitted within 30 days after revisions are recommended, the contract is deemed rejected, and the money is deposited into the Higher Education Financing Fund.
- Professional, personal or consulting service contracts exempted from the bill are contracts of the Secretary of State to conduct elections; Medicaid and other contracts for doctors and other providers; contracts using federal funds; and District Attorney and Public Defender contracts.
- The provisions of the bill will sunset on July 1, 2017, unless extended by the Legislature.
HB 142 in its final form is not as tough on wasteful consultant spending as some of us wanted, but it’s a start.
If you want to encourage Governor Jindal to sign HB 142 into law, his telephone number is (225) 342-7015, or you can send him an email by visiting our website at www.LATreasury.com and clicking the link “Contact Gov. Jindal.”