The BP Oil Spill Settlement Was Finalized Today, And The State Has Already Spent $200 Million Of It

That money was blown before the settlement ever went final. Gov. John Bel Edwards needed it to fill Louisiana’s midyear budget deficit.

You remember Edwards, right? The guy who wouldn’t shut up about the irresponsibility of his predecessor spending “one-time money” on recurring expenses?

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Legislature are one step closer to getting $200 million the state is counting on to make it through the end of the current budget cycle.

The $200 million would come from the BP oil settlement and help pay for government services through June 30. The money was part of a larger, comprehensive package put together last month to resolve the $940 million current budget deficit.

A federal judge in New Orleans granted final approval Monday (April 4) to a $20 billion settlement over the 2010 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, resolving years of litigation over the worst offshore spill in the nation’s history. The money to resolve this year’s budget problems would come from that overall settlement.

Is there any difference between Edwards and Bobby Jindal? Jindal wouldn’t raise taxes and spent “one-time” money to balance his budget because he couldn’t cut enough, while Edwards can’t seem to raise taxes enough not to need “one-time money” because he won’t cut at all.

Here’s something worth watching – the BP money is set up to be funneled through to coastal restoration per the RESTORE Act, which was passed in Congress largely through the efforts of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. And Scalise didn’t go through all that trouble just to watch the best part of $20 billion flow through Louisiana’s general fund over the next decade and a half while little or none of it gets spent as Congress directed.

And Scalise laid down his marker today…

“The final approval of the BP settlement is a tremendous victory for the people of Louisiana, who have shown strong resilience and taken crucial steps to improve the safety of energy production in the six years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” Scalise said. “Thanks to the RESTORE Act, these settlement funds will now be used for their intended purpose of restoring our coast and protecting south Louisiana’s unique way of life—not as a slush fund for unrelated projects. I’m thankful that Judge Barbier brought these legal proceedings to a just conclusion, and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that these hard-earned funds are used properly to restore our coast so that Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states can move forward with the important work of recovering from the damage that was done and protect us from future storms.”

That was a subtle hit to Edwards, but unmistakable.

And it’s a pretty good bet that as things go, if Edwards continues trying to lay his hands on BP money in order to grow government rather than Louisiana’s coastline, Scalise will be less subtle about how that money ought to be used.

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