Dedicated Funds Get Another Look

This story was first published for subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly on Oct. 19, 2017. Wish you would have read it then? Subscribe now!

Starting tomorrow lawmakers will be putting hundreds of dedicated funds underneath the proverbial microscope to kick off proceedings for the new Dedicated Fund Review Subcommittee. (It’s a subcommittee of Joint Budget, thanks to a bill from the last regular session.)

Members of the subcommittee will be reviewing around 50 funds at a time, in the hopes of inspiring some legislation for the spring. Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Rep. Rick Edmonds are serving as co-chairs, while the rest of the subcommittee includes Sens. Conrad Appel, Norby Chabert and Francis Thompson; House Speaker Taylor Barras; and Reps. Beryl Amedee, Larry Bagley, Lance Harris and Pat Smith.

Hewitt, who attempted last session to eliminate such funds, said lawmakers will look at each objectively before determining whether they should remain funded. She suspects some of the funds will be “no-brainers to un-dedicate,” while others will be more of a challenge.

The funds to be reviewed are being grouped by department. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Department of Transportation and Development are up first. “It’s a heavy lift because, of course, for every entity that has a dedicated fund, they are against un-dedicating the money,” she said.

Edmonds added lawmakers will at the very least end up with a better understanding of why certain funds exist. For now, it appears as if participating lawmakers have little interest in touching the Transportation Trust Fund and the Minimum Foundation Program. But there’s isn't a quota or even a goal for how much the subcommittee ultimately wants to tackle.

“We really won’t know what we’re diving into until Friday,” Edmonds said.

Hewitt added, “If we don’t make progress on this this year, then I’m going to challenge my colleagues to quit using dedicated funds as an excuse to why we can’t better manage our budget.”

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