Louisiana lawmakers load up budget with $22M in pet projects

Louisiana lawmakers load up budget with $22M in pet projects

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – In a special session called to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Louisiana legislative leaders are proposing to steer $22 million in state cash to local pet projects, a list crafted behind closed doors that received little public discussion and followed no specific vetting process.

The earmarks tucked into a budget bill could come up for final passage Thursday in the House and Senate. But a first attempt to pass the seven-page list of dollars divvied up to municipal agencies ran into a buzzsaw of criticism Wednesday night from rank-and-file House lawmakers.

“We’ve got a lot of problems, and this is not what I thought I came down here to do. I don’t understand,” said Rep. Kenny Cox, a Natchitoches Democrat. “I didn’t think we had this kind of money.”

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Republicans and Democrats, including some on the budget committee, questioned how the list was developed, who made the decisions and why Louisiana was spending its

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