Flow of money between state and cities a mystery
One of the best-kept secrets in the Legislature is the amount of state dollars that are directed to local and municipal governments. It's not that the information doesn't exist; it just isn't tabulated in a single place that's easy to access. For years, fiscal conservatives have complained—but not too loudly, as sometimes those dollars flow into their districts—that while state dollars are being slashed in the name of budget shortfalls, no one really knows how much money goes to local projects. State Rep. Jerome Richard, a Thibodeaux independent, is trying to change that. Last week, Richard filed a formal request with the House Fiscal Staff asking for information on local spending by the state. "I want to see where the money goes," says Richard. "I have heard it could be as much as $1 billion, though I've heard it could be less. We just really have no idea." Richard says he isn't opposed to using state funds for local projects; rather, he wants the big picture revealed. "It's the kind of information we need to have in order to make informed decisions about the budget," he says, adding that there's been no word on how long it will take to get the information. —Stephanie Riegel
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