House Appropriations chairman grills governor's office on travel expenses

House Appropriations chairman grills governor's office on travel expenses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - While taking a closer look at the $24.6 billion spending plan proposed by Governor Jindal for the next fiscal year, the House Appropriations chairman and the governor's budget manager exchanged words over the governor's busy travel schedule.

"We have a budget problem in this state," said Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, the Chairman of House Committee on Appropriations. "I want to know if the money that we're spending for you to travel out of state, and I see lots of travel out of state. You need to be able to sit at that table and tell me why you're traveling so much out of state and what purpose it serves the tax payer."

"I think the travel would probably be from out of state to of course bring more revenue into the state. For example, a steel mill that wants to build in, I don't know, Napoleonville," replied Demetrious Allen,

the governor's budget manager.

But when Rep. Fannin replied to Allen's response, asking "Did you have one? Did you go visit one," Allen could not say he did.

"Oh, no I didn't go visit one," said Allen.

Fannin then said he'd like to see "real examples."

Things started getting chippy when Allen told the committee the governor's office was cutting its travel budget to just $11,000 in the fiscal year ahead. Governor Jindal spent about 165 days out of state last year.

Later, another member of the governor's office said that the $11,000 amount specifically covers the governor's staff who travel within the state.

The spokeswoman said the governor's travel budget falls within the Department of Public Safety.

The Appropriations Committee also heard from the other agencies of the executive department Tuesday.

The House Fiscal Division says the budget has grown $6.7 billion in the past decade.

The committee will meet for the next four weeks. They're looking for ways to close the $1.6 billion budget gap in the upcoming fiscal year.

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