Construction budget advances

A $5.7 billion, multi-year state construction budget started advancing Thursday in the Legislature, getting approval from the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee.

Louisiana has a cap on annual borrowing that limits spending on construction projects to $355 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The Jindal administration proposed a list of projects to use up all that capacity and $120 million more, when submitting House Bill 2 to lawmakers.

The House committee reworked those plans, stripping dollars set aside for statewide roofing and building repairs and for two economic development funds that are used to attract projects to the state.

As backed by the House panel, the construction budget contains $18 million more than the state has money to spend, said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette. That leaves the governor’s office to determine which projects would be submitted to the State Bond Commission for lines of credit.

The “capital outlay” bill also includes federal highway money and other funding sources set aside for state construction.