Capital spending bill approved by the skin of its teeth; funding included for Moncus Park, Holy Rosary redevelopment and Bayou Vermilion flood control

Lafayette Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan on the House floor
Lafayette Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan on the House floor. Photo by Travis Gauthier

With just minutes to spare before the House and Senate adjourned sine die at 6 p.m. Thursday, the two houses finally approved a tediously crafted conference report on a $5 billion capital outlay bill for next year’s bricks, mortar and cement projects.

At 5:38 p.m., the House adopted the 12-page conference report on HB2 by Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, 101-0. It contained 67 amendments, which neither house would have time to scrutinize. They took Bishop’s assurances on faith.

“Members, I want you to know that I did absolutely everything that was in my power” to retain as much as possible from the original House bill for building projects, Bishop told the House before the vote. “I can assure you your water projects are in there.”

Three minutes later, the Senate approved the conference report, 36-0.

The literal bottom line: $5,068,239,879, of which $3,249,182,838 will come from the sale of general obligations bonds and $1,812,886,088 from various state fund sources, the bulk of that, $682.9 million, from the Transportation Trust Fund for highway construction and maintenance. Another $282.8 million will come from federal funds, such as hurricane recovery assistance, and $143.5 million from the general fund. 

Lafayette Parish projects include: 

  • $31.6 million for Bayou Vermilion flood control planning and construction
  • $10.7 million for the Kaliste Saloom Road widening
  • $8.4 million for Moncus Park improvements, planning and construction
  • $6.5 million for the Lafayette Metropolitan Expressway Commission for planning and construction
  • $6.2 million for the Parish Government Complex and parish courthouse planning and construction
  • $4.5 million for the Holy Rosary redevelopment
  • $3.9 million for the Acadiana Criminalistics Laboratory District
  • $2.3 million for the Lafayette Airport Commission for construction of the new passenger terminal
  • $5.4 million for flood damage repairs and the Arceneaux Road drainage improvements in Carencro
  • $2.4 million for water and sewer planning and installation in Scott
  • $1.5 million for the Cypress Island Swamp spoil bank removal.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette was allocated $18 million for renovation of Madison Hall; $13.8 million for the construction of a new engineering building; and $13.25 million for planning and construction of a new health care education and training facility. Those figures were unchanged from the original bill.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College system was allocated $4 million for land acquisition, with $2.5 million earmarked for the acquisition of the old Our Lady of Lourdes hospital facility on St. Landry Street. South Louisiana Community College itself does not appear in the revised version as it did in the original.

The spending bill had passed the House unanimously on May 13. After adding two committee amendments and three floor amendments, the Senate passed it unanimously on June 1. For the last 10 days, the conference committee, composed of three members from each house, labored to hammer out a final version of the 102-page bill.