JBE Vetoed An Arts District For GOP Dominated St. Tammany, Here’s What He Funded Instead

Yesterday, JBE used his line-item veto to kill state funding for a proposed cultural arts district in St. Tammany Parish. St. Tammany Parish is this state’s Republican stronghold and suffice to say did not vote for JBE last year.

Here’s the excuse his press officers at The Times-Picayune gave:

In announcing his capital outlay bill vetoes, Edwards said his approach for the fiscal year that started July 1 included eliminating over-budgeting and prioritizing projects to take a “realistic approach” to public construction projects. “Given our historic budget shortfalls, the people of Louisiana stand to benefit most from better roads and other infrastructure,” he said.

“For too long, the capital outlay process gave false hope to the people of Louisiana that construction dollars were on the way when, in fact, they were not. I’ve promised to budget openly and honestly with the people of Louisiana, and this capital outlay bill is representative of that approach.”

St. Tammany’s Zoning Commission in 2014 approved the rezoning of about 48 acres north of I-12, between The Pinnacle at Nord du Lac shopping center and the Tchefuncte River, where the parish government planned the arts district. It was to include a children’s museum.

The plans also called for privately owned commercial development, including a hotel and restaurant. All State Financial, with partners who include real estate developer Bruce Wainer, owns the land. Wainer has said he envisioned financing through some sort of a public-private partnership.

The St. Tammany Parish Government are feigning surprise, but they shouldn’t be. The Hillbilly Caudillo has already shown a willingness to punish those who don’t go along with him.

This is a crony capitalist scheme to be sure, but JBE is funding a bunch of them in his budget. If he’s not funding crony schemes, he’s funding pure pork barrel spending and NGOs. It is not the job of state government to fund private charities.

Here are some things JBE did find money for in HB 2:

  • $9,236,300 for a soccer stadium in Algiers
  • $1,100,000 for the C.C. Antoine Park in Shreveport
  • $60,900 for a junior golf course in Shreveport
  • $66,600 for a farmer’s market in Westwego
  • $1,450,000 for parks in Westwego
  • $1,004,400 for an arts and community center in Westwego
  • $203,800 for a farmer’s market in Winnsboro
  • $971,200 for a sports complex in Youngsville
  • $1,500,000 for Tulane University, which last time I checked was private
  • $700,000 for the Baton Rouge metro airport, which no one uses
  • $13,928,100 for the National World War II Museum, a NGO
  • $4,117,900 for Kingsley House, another NGO
  • $15,000 for Efforts of Grace, a NGO
  • $100,000 for the McKinley High School Alumni Association
  • $2,850,000 for Lighthouse For The Blind
  • $100,000 for the Baton Rouge YMCA
  • $300,000 for the Archdiocese of New Orleans
  • $55,000 for Reconcile New Orleans, Inc.
  • $200,000 for the Louisiana Association For The Blind
  • $405,000 for the Opportunities Industrialization Center
  • $35,000 for the Boys and Girls Club

There are many, many more questionable projects that were approved. There was even money for SUNO, which is a failed university by all accounts.

JBE’s line item veto targeting St. Tammany wasn’t fiscally conservative, it was designed to punish St. Tammany for voting against him last year. Once again, a governor is punishing parts of the state that oppose him. The bad old days are back in Louisiana.

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