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Wed Jan 10, 2018, 10:17 AM

Court considers constitutionality of key budget balancing tool

After seven years of delays over legal technicalities, a trial court Monday finally heard arguments about the constitutionality of the Louisiana Legislature using fees paid for a specific purpose to help balance the state’s annual budget.

Nineteenth Judicial District Court Judge Donald Johnson, of Baton Rouge, said from the bench that he would mull over the arguments and decide the issue on Jan. 22.

Fund sweeps were a common practice to help find the money necessary to pay for state government services rather than cut them. The precedent is still available though Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the chief budget architect, repeatedly says the dedicated funds have no more money available to be moved for other purposes.

Legislators, at the urging of the Jindal administration, took monies accumulated in various dedicated funds. In 2009 and 2010 – the years involved when this lawsuit was filed – the Legislature took funds dedicated to programs, such as the DNA testing and lawyers for indigent criminal defendants, cleaning up oil spills, improvements for state parks, rapid response for economic development, labor training, customer service and technology upgrades at the Office of Motor Vehicles.

Read more: http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_f1311316-f4cb-11e7-81b3-13d93518646b.html

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