Bill creating a state collections department moves forward

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Representative Chris Broadwater and a supporting cast presented his bill to members of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee on Monday. The bill would create a centralized collection department to work in conjunction with the Department of Revenue and the Attorney General's Office.

"At a time when we've seen cuts to higher education, crisis to healthcare and a trooper class we haven't seen in five years, it's critical that we start getting this money in," said Broadwater.

According to a Commissioner of Administration report, state agencies are currently owed over $1.4 billion with more than $700 million of that past due. The Department of Health and Hospitals alone has more than $251 million in overdue bills. The state Department of Revenue is owed more than $168 million.

"The Workforce Commission - their mission is to help people get jobs, DHH is to make sure we're delivering healthcare, this agency's sole mission is to collect the money owed to the state," added Broadwater.

It was suggested in committee that money collected should go back to the original agency and an amendment to the bill was added, but State Treasurer John Kennedy said the most important component is that the department would bring with it the potential of securing millions back to the state.

"It's a certainty that we would bring in worst-case, scenario 100 million over five years and I think that we could triple and quadruple that based on the experience in other states," said Kennedy.

The bill passed through committee without opposition and now heads to the Senate Finance committee.

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