Louisiana Political News Wire
Blanco Cuts Fraction From $30 Billion Spending Plan
by Doug Simpson - Shreveport Times (excerpt)
BATON ROUGE — Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Thursday cut about $65 million from this year's state budget, a small fraction of a record $29 billion spending plan she approved.
Most of the spending eliminated by the governor, $64 million, would have gone to a fund which pays for barrier island stabilization and preservation. In her letter explaining her cuts, Blanco argues that the money will instead come from sale of Louisiana's 1998 settlement money from the cigarette industry — a move that angered lawmakers who oppose selling that money.
Rep. Steve Scalise said the Blanco administration neglected to get approval from the Legislature for sale of the cigarette money. Scalise said a large number of legislators are opposed to the sale, in the belief that the state would benefit financially by holding onto the money and continuing to receive payments from the industry.
"So the only way you get this money for the barrier islands is that you approve this sale of the tobacco settlement? That's a real dangerous game of Russian roulette to play with our coast," said Scalise, R-Metairie.
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