State officials report $1.9M in questionable pandemic aid to businesses

(iStock)

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the state Treasury have identified more than $1.9 million in questionable payments made through the federally funded Main Street Recovery Program.

The LLA says the Treasury did not consistently follow its policies and procedures for all grants awarded through the program, though Treasurer John Schroder says the rate of improper payments was well below the national average for similar programs. 

The $275 million program began taking applications on July 1, 2020, and issued the last award in January 2021. Demand letters issued as a result of the LLA audit, demand letters self-imposed by the program, and fraudulent payments referred to the Office of the Inspector General totaled $1,942,495 of the $262 million handed out, officials say. 

The LLA also analyzed Treasury-managed state assets and debt on June 30 in each of the five most recent fiscal years. Assets, which totaled $14.2 billion for fiscal year 2021, have consistently increased since fiscal year 2017 due to operating surpluses and federal pandemic aid received in fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021. Debt has fluctuated between $6.6 billion and $6.9 billion during fiscal years 2017 through 2021, the auditor’s office reports.