Lawmakers call for cutting state contracts during special session

Lawmakers call for cutting state contracts during special session

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some House members Monday moved to cut spending on state consulting and professional services contracts.

Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, was one of two lawmakers who gained unanimous support to chop contracts.

"Because of the extraordinary times that we are in, we are going to do as I do in my business, which is start from the bottom and work our way up," said Harris.

Harris wants an immediate review of all contracts, scrapping whatever ones are deemed a waste of money. Contracts for 'critical healthcare services' or 'classroom activity' would not be cut.

"If you just spend four, five hours looking at these contracts, it will make you throw up. There's thousands of these things," said State Treasurer John Kennedy.

Kennedy said  the contracts total up to $20 billion.

A similar measure is already happening via an executive order from Governor John Bel Edwards. However, it would not cut social services contracts.

Harris is backed by Rep. Dee Richard, I-Thibodaux, who is calling for a 15 percent cut across the board to all state contracts.

"Lance's bill is a good start. It's up to us to get something done," said Richard.

A third measure on state contracts also advanced Monday. Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, wants the Legislative Auditor to be the new watchdog over all contracts. Morris wants to create a database of contracts to, in his words, be more transparent.

"One of the things I'm encountering is people saying, 'Fix government first. We don't want to pay one dime more in tax until we know that you're spending our money correctly.' This is a small step toward doing that," said Morris.

Financial analysts said cutting contracts would not be a huge help to close the immediate state deficit.

House members in support said cutting contracts is more of a long term fix, addressing the state's structural budget problems.

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