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Story Archives: Area fares well in light of vetoes
|Area fares well in light of vetoes|
State Sen. Neil Riser said he was pleased that most of the projects lawmakers voted to fund in his district survived Gov. Bobby Jindal's veto pen.
Jindal unveiled 258 line-item vetoes Monday, eliminating funding for projects ranging from playground equipment to community centers.
"Our area fared pretty well," said Riser, R-Columbia. "A couple of things for our region were cut."
Overall, Riser said projects in his district were funded because he was able to channel money through local governing agencies instead of non-governmental organizations, known as NGOs.
In announcing his vetoes at a news conference Monday, Jindal said he understood the need to fund the activities of organizations in communities across the state, but disagreed with utilizing state funds to pay for them.
"I would encourage people to support these organizations with their private dollars," Jindal said. "However that doesn't necessarily mean they should get taxpayer dollars."
Riser expressed concern that Jindal's position could hit rural parishes pretty hard.
"I've told my colleagues my concern is this is just another way to try to deprive poor parishes of money," Riser said. "I think that's exactly what's happening."
Riser pointed out that rural parishes typically do not have a large number of governmental agencies. If state funds were limited to only government agencies as Jindal suggests, larger areas of the state population-wise such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport would receive a disproportionate share of state funding.
"In a rural parish, as I've discussed with the administration, there just are not a lot of governmental organizations," Riser said.
Earmarks placed in the budget by state Rep. Noble Ellington also fared well in light of the governor's veto pen. Ellington also attributed that success to funneling state funding through local governments.
"We did most of these fundings through (local) government," said Ellington, D-Winnsboro. "Instead of doing it as NGOs, we did it through the town and through the parish."
By making sure the money passed through either the police jury or a municipality such as the town of Winnsboro, Ellington said the projects he funded met the governor's criteria for funding.
"There's always more than one way to skin a cat," Ellington said. "We also made sure we didn't try to do anything that wasn't a worthwhile project."
Ellington questioned the governor's logic, however, in vetoing funding for some projects. He pointed to one veto in the area, a $10,000 appropriation for Winnsboro Gun Club's annual shooting competition.
"When you say it's money for the gun club, it sounds like something you shouldn't do," said Ellington. "But when you realize they put on a shoot every year where they bring in about 400 people, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants for about a week, I think it's a very worthwhile project."
Riser said Jindal left alone funding for local councils on aging, but he said he's worried because of the governor's promise to veto future funds for those organizations.
"Once again, that money will go to a government agency that is not inside a rural area," Riser said. "Once again, it'll be one more thing we'll lose."
Riser also is worried many voters do not understand the nature of the funding Jindal vetoed.
"Don't be fooled by the governor's talk that all these NGOs were wasteful spending because they weren't," Riser said.
Overall, however, both Ellington and Riser were happy that their districts were largely unaffected by the cuts.
Ellington noted only three Franklin Parish projects were vetoed -- the $10,000 for the gun club and a capital outlay for improvements at Bethel Christian School.
That left in tact $25,000 for the Catfish Festival, $60,000 for a new fire truck in Crowville and a $200,000 appropriation for the Winnsboro Community Center.
"It could have been a lot worse," Ellington said.