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.”
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