Our Views: Raiding La. tourism fund

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne was prepared to give Bayou Country Superfest $100,000 from an events fund provided by the BP oil company to help tourism efforts in the state. But near the close of the recent legislative session, lawmakers agreed to take $200,000 from the lieutenant governor’s tourism budget and give Superfest an added subsidy for the festival.

Dardenne cried foul and asked Gov. Bobby Jindal to undo what was essentially a last-minute raid on the state’s tourism dollars. Dardenne said he likes Superfest, but he doesn’t support spending $200,000 from an already strained state tourism budget.

We share Dardenne’s skepticism about this state subsidy for a festival that’s already getting lot of direct and indirect government support — and seems to be doing quite well as a commercial enterprise. We’re disappointed that Jindal didn’t veto the funding.

For several years now, the Memorial Day weekend country music festival at LSU has drawn big-name performers and thousands of fans from around the region, a big boost for local restaurants and hotels. We’re happy about the festival’s impact on the local economy, but we doubt that the event needs any more direct government subsidies to do well. A number of similar events in other parts of the country have survived — and thrived — without getting a check from taxpayers.

As we’ve pointed put in the past, the problem with such public-private partnerships is that private interests typically want public dollars, but without the obligation of public oversight.

That’s not the way to make a case for spending $200,000 in state money.