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Capital Outlay Delay

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There are construction projects aimed at improving Shreveport. The state has a program designed to help local projects but funds are low.

Patrick Williams is the state representative for District 4, the Shreveport area. He and other lawmakers try to push a variety of local projects through the state's capital outlay process in baton rouge each year. "Some of these things are in the capital outlay book per say but not necessarily is there funding for those particular projects."
Requests can range from college classrooms to pediatric facilities. It's also a political process where the governor can green light a project to reward a helpful lawmaker, but this year not so much. There's just too little money to go around regardless of how worthy a project might be. William said, "It's about a project that's deemed worthy in the Governor's Office and the Administration wants to help. And projects that really would help the state. You can't just think that once you're in there, it's going to happen because that's just not the case. There's a limited amount of funds that are available in there."

Last week the State House of Representatives approved their version of HB 2 or the Capital Outlay Bill before sending it to the state senate. Williams says the state found plenty of programs they thought were worthy but it was over-budget. Williams explained, "Once the bill came through committee and passed it was 70 million dollars over that amount." Pam Atchison is the Executive Director for Shreveport Regional Arts Council or SRAC. Atchison said, "The artist tower is going to be the nations tallest smallest apartment for a resident artist who will come from out of the area and do important work for Shreveport, Bossier, Northwest Louisiana." She says SRAC submits projects to capital outlay regularly. "It help to fund the renovation when it was the Ivan Smith Furniture Store all the way through to it's expansion right now. We request funding every year. You have to request funding, even though you've been approved for funding because it's an annual process. The legislators feel that if you don't request the funding, you don't need it anymore."

Although capital outlay could be just a wish list for municipalities across the state, Atchison says for some projects capital outlay funds are crucial and that funding is only the tip of the iceberg. "Once you receive some state money, it opens the door. It's the seed money for you to go out and match that money and usually organizations match that money, three to one."

Capital outlay projects are assigned priority levels  on a scale from one to five.  Except for top priority items just being in the bill is no guarantee of funding. Some projects get carried over year to year continuing to await funding and may eventually fall off the list.

There are a few projects in the capital outlay bill for Shreveport. Patrick Williams says his priorities are SUSLA's new classrooms and the BIOMED Pet Scan machine. Other projects listed are Louisiana Association for the Blind construction and SRAC's construction and expansion project. Again the bill is already $70 million dollars over budget so a few of those projects may have to continue waiting.

 

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