$1.4 Billion owed to the state in outstanding debt

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana state officials are trying to come up with a plan to collect some outstanding debt.

State officials estimate that the state is owed more than one billion dollars. The money is in the form or various things including unpaid fines, unpaid fees, old medical bills, and for state services.

State Treasurer John Kennedy says the problem isn't just people refusing to pay, but the collection system itself.

"Frankly this is an embarrassment," said State Treasurer John Kennedy. "This is low hanging fruit."

Most state agencies are responsible for collecting their own monies.

Kennedy says an agency like DEQ, which is responsible for enforcing environmental issues, is better at that, rather than being a collection agency.

"If you want to run for office and you haven't paid your income taxes or you owe a fine over at the ethics commission, you shouldn't be allowed to run for office. If you're a contractor and you owe the tax payers money, you shouldn't be able to get a contract," said Kennedy.

The technical name for this is the accounts receivable summary, which is the money we're owed.

"We're in the middle ages in terms of the way we collect taxpayer money," said Kennedy.

Of the money owed to the state, a little more than half is 180 days overdue.

"I mean no business could collect its money as badly as the state of Louisiana does and stay in business," Kennedy said.

State leaders will meet Friday to discuss the problem and possibly form a plan.

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