State votes to exclude Citi, Bank of America from road bond deal

Updated: Aug. 16, 2018 at 6:27 PM CDT
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The State Bond Commission voted, 7-6, to exclude CitiGroup and Bank of America from its negotiations of a $600 million deal because the banks refuse to finance certain gun retailers.

"You're in the banking business. Why have you decided to enter into the policy-making business?" Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, asked the CitiGroup bank representative at Thursday's commission meeting.

The GARVEE bonds would allow the state to get the cash it needs for highway improvements up-front, but pay back with money it gets from the federal government for future projects.

Nearly 20 banks applied to underwrite the bonds, and the winning bank will act as an agent throughout negotiations. Some commission members argued that barring two of the nation's largest banks from the process could mean higher interest rates and more expensive fees.

"There's nothing we discussed today that somehow maximizes the state's savings or puts us in a better light," Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, said.

"You can't put a price tag on the second amendment," Miguez said.

Critics of the decision also questioned whether the commission has the authority to make decisions based on political disagreements instead of money.

"This really boils down to us saying, 'You won't bake a cake for whom we want you to, so you can't play here," Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, said.

"It's not us that brought the social police into this commission," Attorney General Jeff Landry retorted. "It's these institutions that did so, and in a very public way."

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