Lt. Gov. Chides Jindal on Tourism Dollar Use

August 28, 2013 by · Comments Off on Lt. Gov. Chides Jindal on Tourism Dollar Use 

Jay Dardenne, lieutenant governor of Louisiana

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne says it’s getting tougher to hold on to the money that’s supposed to be spent on tourism because legislators and Gov. Bobby Jindal keep taking it for other purposes.

Speaking Tuesday (Aug. 27) to a packed room of people who make their living in the touring industry, Dardenne said he’s supposed to get $23 million to spend on tourism advertising but “unfortunately, there’s a trend to redirect those dollars,” The Advertiser, Lafayette, reported

In this year’s budget, legislators and the governor’s office shifted $3 million in advertising dollars to other uses and used funds intended for state park repairs to actually run the Office of Tourism.

“Several are legitimate tourist things,” he said, but they are not things under his control. Other things have nothing to do with tourism.

Examples he cited are funding for Senior Olympics and Special Olympics taken out of his budget each year when they do not attract tourists to the state. Also, funding has been shifted several years to a construction project at Bayou de Famille Park in Jefferson Parish, which is not part of the state parks system. This year, it was more than $1 million and taking tourism funds bypasses the normal capital outlay process.

In final budget negotiations, senators quietly took $200,000 for Bayou Country Superfest, a Baton Rouge country music festival held in LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

“I have been a staunch supporter of this event” and had already dedicated $100,000 to it, Dardenne said. Taking the money without consulting him is symbolic of “a chink in our armor of preventing any new pass-throughs in the budget.”

Advertising pays off, the lieutenant governor said. Records show a $17 return on every $1 invested.

Another problem, he said, is that the governor has raided a state parks fund to balance the state budget. Several years ago, legislation called for fees on overnight rentals of cabins and other park facilities to go into a maintenance and repair fund.

“The current administration has tapped into that fund to the point that the fund is at zero,” Dardenne said.



Louisiana at Odds Over Park Funds Use

March 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on Louisiana at Odds Over Park Funds Use 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s use of funds for state parks questioned in Louisiana.

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Thursday (March 14) he’s been unable to do much maintenance or upkeep of Louisiana’s state parks with his budget in recent years, The Associated Press reported.

Dardenne said Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration and lawmakers have shifted so much money from a repair fund into park system general operations that he cannot afford to take care of the cabins and amenities that bring in money for the state.

The fund is filled with park admission and rental fees.

Jindal wants to use $9 million from the maintenance fund for park operations in the budget for the coming 2013-14 year, according to Dardenne.

Dardenne said that would drain the fund, leaving him unable to repair and reopen cabins at Fontainebleau State Park, a St. Tammany Parish park heavily damaged by Hurricane Isaac.

“We have these magnificent state parks. They’re our facilities. They need to be maintained. Air conditioners break, swimming pool pumps break. Maintenance is needed. Roads need to be repaired,” Dardenne told the House Appropriations Committee.

The Republican lieutenant governor said $25 million has been siphoned from the maintenance fund for operations over the last five years, since the Jindal administration has been in office.

Michael DiResto, a spokesman for Jindal’s Division of Administration, said the park maintenance fund has had money left over in it each year, which he said “was available and could have been used for repairs.”

DiResto said the administration is working with Dardenne to pay for park repair needs through the state’s construction budget, which is funded with borrowed money paid off over time with interest.

The Appropriations Committee is combing through Jindal’s $24.8 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The lieutenant governor oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

Dardenne said the governor’s budget assumes the state parks will bring in more revenue than the lieutenant governor thinks he’ll get from park fees and rentals, because he won’t have revenue from Fontainebleau cabins, which he called a “cash cow.”

Lawmakers said they were concerned about draining the park maintenance fund.

Appropriations Chairman Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, said he visited Jimmie Davis State Park in Jackson Parish within the last month.

“You can certainly see a lot of wear and tear. It’s nothing probably that paint wouldn’t take care of. It’s troubling me that we’re taking our maintenance fund and using it other places,” Fannin said.