(BATON ROUGE) State Representative Cameron Henry, District 82 (R - Metairie), along with colleagues Dee Richard (I - Thibodaux), and Joe Harrison (R - Napoleonville) are calling on Governor Jindal to spare the Artificial Reef Development Fund in his efforts to cobble together funding to help balance the 2013-14 State Budget.
The legislators caution that the Governor has taken $45 million from the fund since 2010, that he is in violation of statute and the State Constitution, and that his actions endanger important programs designed to protect Louisiana's coast. In 2010, the Administration took $18 million from the funds' $44 million balance. In the fiscal year 2011-12, it took in $27 million. As of March 16, 2013, the fund had just $22.6 million in it.
"We are strongly urging the Governor to resist the temptation to sweep more money from the Conservation Fund dedicated to efforts like the Rigs to Reefs program" said Representative Henry. "The Administration has already taken $45 million in dedicated funds, protected by our laws and the Constitution, to fill holes in his executive budget. We hope he won't go back to the well again this year" Representative Henry said.
"Protecting our fragile coast is one of our top policy priorities and it requires a significant amount of money" said Representative Dee Richard (I - Thibodaux). "For the Administration to repeatedly take legally dedicated funds intended for the coast is way over the line. When companies pay into a fund to help achieve important public purposes, they should have confidence that the funds will be used as intended" Representative Richard continued. "The people of Louisiana should also have that same confidence. Disturbingly, this Administration places itself above the law and above the Constitution" Richard concluded.
According to Representative Joe Harrison," It is unfortunate but we have an Administration who has shown a pattern of disregard for both our Louisiana Constitution and state statute. The people voted to dedicate these funds to the protection of our offshore fisheries and our coastline and no one individual, not even the governor has the power or the right to take these funds away. I again call on Governor Jindal to lawfully abide by the Constitution and statute and cease his attempted raid on our Coastal Protection funds."