Handcuffed by Governor’s Unconstitutional Actions
BATON ROUGE, LA – In a lawsuit filed today, Attorney General Jeff Landry is asking the court to reaffirm what the duly-elected Legislature has already decided: Governor John Bel Edwards may not raid agencies’ operational funds to pay for his bloated government.
“Despite the media’s best attempt of cloaking the emperor in bi-partisanship and compromise, the facts are clear: John Bel Edwards is a predictable and vindictive Washington-style politician more concerned with political points than the people’s business,” said Landry. “By playing petty partisan politics, the Governor is jeopardizing the operations of the Louisiana Department of Justice.”
When money is recovered for the State by the hard work of the Louisiana Department of Justice (LADOJ), a percentage of that money goes into an escrow account to help fund ongoing, active operations of the office – relieving a burden on the limited State General Fund. The LADOJ is approved to use these monies through the legislative appropriations process; but in order for the LADOJ to spend monies in the escrow, the funds must be re-classified to the Legal Support Fund or Self-Generated Revenue, both of which contain expenditure authority but no cash.
The LADOJ, and other agencies, reclassify funds using the statewide accounting system and specifically by executing a J-2 Voucher. The Governor’s Division of Administration has engaged in a politically-motivated, arbitrary, and capricious game to delay approval of LADOJ J-2’s – thus, blocking the LADOJ’s access to funds.
“John Bel Edwards has made clear that, despite the duly-elected Legislature’s desires, he will continue to raid an account that has been used for years to fund the operations of the Louisiana Department of Justice,” continued Landry. “The Governor’s lawless disregard for the legislative and democratic processes has obstructed the Louisiana Department of Justice from carrying out our constitutionally and statutorily obligated duties.”
It is disturbing that the Governor and his office do not understand simple budget mechanics. The Division of Administration believes that 2013 Louisiana Act 420 required LADOJ escrow funds to be transferred to the Overcollections Fund. However, the LADOJ complied with all obligations related to 2013 Louisiana Act 420. Furthermore, 2016 Louisiana Act 601 clearly and unambiguously terminated any continuing obligations related to 2013 La. Act 420 by declaring any outstanding transfers arising from “null and void and of no further effect.”
“While John Bel Edwards attempts to fleece the taxpayers with tax increases and bigger spending, I will continue to streamline departments and cut waste,” concluded Landry. “I will continue to respect the will of the Legislature; and, if necessary, further petition the court to correct the Governor’s irresponsible and unlawful actions.”